Thursday, March 1, 2018

THE POWER OF GOD’S WORD



THE POWER OF GOD’S WORD
By Jeannie Horton Life Christian University student
INTRODUCTION

In 2011 my family moved to Crescent City, California. I knew mountain lions and black bears lived in the Redwoods and surrounding forests, and as a distance trail runner the danger frightened me. I started training for a 100-mile foot race, and I liked to run on a very hilly trail and fire road in Gasquet, California which was about 15 minutes away from Crescent City. I knew that there was a big possibility to see a black bear or a mountain lion, so I always came prepared with protection. The trail to the fire road is 3 miles long, and the fire road goes on for many miles and is rarely used. There is only one way back to my car and it is back down the 3-mile long trail. During one run, I’m just about on the trail to head down to my car when I kept hearing a noise in the forest. I thought to myself, “If I hear that noise one more time, I’m going to stop and check it out.” I then notice less than 1/4 mile away there is a black bear and it looks really big. I first pull my body alarm and the bear doesn't even look up. I yell at it and it looks up and starts walking towards me! I keep yelling and pull the alarm again and it doesn't stop walking! I walk away from it, going in the opposite direction that will get me to my car. I then stop and walk forward again to see if it's still there. The bear is now stopped and looking at me. I yell again and it starts walking towards me again! I then prayed, “Help me, Lord!” God tells me to enter the forest where there is no trail or road and go around him. That worked and I see it run away to the opposite side of the forest. I breathe a huge sigh of relief, thanking God from all of my heart. I then run a personal record in speed all the way back to my car. The next week I went right back to the area where I saw the bear because I didn’t want to live in fear. I didn’t want the fear of this bear to prevent me from doing what I loved! It was extremely scary and I fortunately never saw any bear again. We moved back to Portland a few months later. “Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses” (Psalm 107:28). I had cried out to God in my trouble, He heard and He saved me. His word was not void.
Because of God’s great love, He wants to have a relationship with us. He didn’t just create this wonderful home for us to live, to only fend for ourselves. He has always been here for us in love. He is omnipotent which means that He has unlimited power and He can do anything. He has given us the Holy Spirit to comfort, intercede, educate and to guide. God speaks to us and helps us. His word is so powerful and it does not return to Him void. “So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
I. GOD SPEAKS TO US
God is speaking to us and He is able to do so in any way He desires. He wants to give us messages about His will, encouragement and to teach and guide. So how does He speak to us? Here are a few ways that God speaks to us:
·        The Bible.
God speaks to us through His word, as it is God-breathed. It is a love letter to us from Him, a good news message to all of us. It isn’t just an instruction manual on how to live. People learn about Jesus by reading the Bible, about Salvation, about love, relationships, faith, hope, joy and about our enemy and how we can protect ourselves.  

·         His Son, Jesus Christ.

God sent His Son, Jesus, and during the short time that He was here amongst us, He touched so many peoples’ lives through His teachings and healings. Even today, through His commandment in the book of Mathew, He’s still touching lives through His believers: “Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age” (Mathew 28:19, 20).

·         Holy Spirit.
When Jesus ascended up to heaven He left believers the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us. We need to listen to that still small voice and obey. A Christian friend of mine told me the story of how she was doing some shopping one day. She decided to drive home using a different route. As she was waiting at a rather long light to turn left, she heard in her head “go right.” Unfortunately, she did not obey. Then all of a sudden, someone hits her car and yells at her. She pulled over the best that she could, opened her door and the woman was yelling at her rather mad letting her know that she had almost hit her! She was absolutely horrified and very apologetic. She did not know how she did not see the other woman. She learned two things that day: God spoke to her, trying to get her out of that situation but when she did not obey, He stepped in and saved that woman and her from what could have been a very tragic accident. The Holy Spirit is a gift to us from God.
·         Through prayer.
Pray throughout the day with a spirit of thanksgiving. It’s important to listen to God and what He wants to say; don’t just do all the talking! And make sure it is actually God that you are hearing. His word will always line up with scripture. In the book or Romans, it talks about how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. It says: “So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groaning too deep for utterance” (Romans 8:26-27).
·         Nature and God’s creation.
There are so many beautiful and wondrous things that He has given us for our enjoyment and for education. For example, we learn from animals about love, life, and death. We learn about transitions, change, and beauty from the sunrises and sunsets. With each new day and season there is potential for change and growth. He created the rainbow to remind us of his promise that He would never flood the earth again.
·         Other believers.
God uses other believers to communicate messages from Him. It is important to check scripture for truth in what the other believer is saying. It needs to line up with God’s word and if God has already confirmed the truth in your heart.
·         Dreams and visions.
“And afterward I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28). I was bullied in high school. I felt so helpless and sad, to the point that I remember thinking that I wanted one of the girls to die. One night God spoke to me in a dream. He said two simple words, “It’s over!” My bullies never bothered me again. He showed me even as a young teenager how much He loved and wanted to help me.  People do need to be careful with dreams and visions as He doesn’t always speak to us this way. It may not be from Him. Check scripture and pray about what you have heard.
·         Music.
A lot of Christian artists are singing the word of God in their music and people are ministered to while worshiping Him. Praise and worship brings peace and allows you to feel close to God; He will speak to you!
II.      STUDYING THE MESSAGE IN ISAIAH 55:11
In Genesis, in the beginning of the creation of the world, God spoke. “And God said, Let there be light; and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). In Ezekiel, He spoke the word to the dead bones to rise and they did. “Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath and spirit to enter you, and you shall live” (Ezekiel 37:5). These are just two examples of the power in God’s word. “His word will not return to Him void, but will accomplish and prosper that which He pleases and purposes” (Isaiah 55:11). As a believer in Christ, that is powerful! We just need to have faith in Him!  
God’s word is a seed and seeds have life! And like the seed that fell upon the good ground in the parable from Luke chapter 8, we need to allow His seed, His word, to take life within us and not let the cares of this world choke it to where it doesn’t produce life. His word needs to abide (remain) in us continuously and deep in our hearts so that it can bring forth fruit in our lives and in the lives of others we come in contact with. When we are born again, God changes us from glory to glory. We are to learn His word, His commandments, and statues and follow them. He wants to bless us. He wants to use us, but we need to do our part. We cannot let our flesh run our lives and do what it wants; we need to do what God’s word says. If we allow Him, He will prune away the thorny parts of our flesh to the point that we are producing good fruit in our lives.
God wants us to accomplish His will; He wants our will to line up with His. He needs us, we are partners with Him. “As Christians, we’re partners with God; this means He has a part and we have a part. And the simple truth is, if we will do what we can do, God will do what we cannot do” (Joyce Meyer). He has a good plan for your life. His plan for each of us is God-ordained, unique and personal and He won't change His mind and give your plan over to someone else. So if you've gone astray with your walk with the Lord, just repent. God loves you and is receiving you with open arms. He never left you and the plan He has for you can only be filled by you! In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed: “Saying Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but [always] Yours be done. And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him in spirit” (Luke 22:42-43). Only Jesus could do the will of the Father, being sent to the world as a human to redeem us and restore what was lost.
God’s word spoken in faith from a believer’s mouth can change circumstances. His word and His promises are powerful, and they are full of life! One word from God can change circumstances. It can open doors that you could never imagine being opened. He can change hearts, and people are healed, delivered, and set free!  Don’t let circumstances get you down. Don’t speak negatively about circumstances. We are to speak to our circumstances as we want them to be, not as they are currently! “Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they (already) existed” (Romans 4:17). If you are in debt, don’t say “I never have enough money; I’ll never get ahead.” Say “Thank you God that I am a lender and not a borrower.” Believe that God is going to help you because He loves us and is a God that restores! Believe He has more in store for you.
II.      DOING OUR PART
We need to be diligent about making God number 1 in our lives. It is important to let Him into every area of our lives. We need to completely renew our minds and we can do this by not only reading our Bibles but actively studying and meditating on His word throughout the day.  He wants us to be in continuous communication with Him by speaking His word and listening to Him through worship and prayer. Prayer doesn’t have to be for several hours a day, but just as you would talk to your children or spouse. You can say things like, “Thank you God that it is such a beautiful day!” or “thank you God that I slept great last night!” If you notice a friend needs prayer, lift them up in prayer. We also need to go out in love and speak to others about Jesus, sharing our testimony, and teaching them about God’s great love for them and about His word.
CONCLUSION
            We serve an awesome God! He loves us so much and wants a relationship with us! If we believe in His Son Jesus, we will have an eternal and everlasting life. He has clearly demonstrated this to us by sending Jesus to save us and bring us into a right relationship with Him. I believe in the power of God’s word. I believe it is true and it will prosper and not return to Him void, but will indeed prosper what He purposes.  “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life” (John 3:16). I believe this is the greatest example of Isaiah 55:11. His word has not returned to Him void.






Friday, February 9, 2018

Persevering for Christ



Every endurance athlete knows what it’s like to persevere. I think back to my experience with
running Javelina Jundred, a 100 miler in the McDowell Regional Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona and how perseverance came in to play. When you’re out on the course and it’s getting tough and everything hurts, it’s dark, you have blisters, you’re tired and you still can’t see the finish line, you know you’re no where near being finished. You want to quit, but you know if you do, you won’t get the prize of being a finisher and having that sense of accomplishment. Nobody who signs up for a race wants to quit, it’s that last thing from our minds. They don’t stand at the finish line and think, I’m just going to quit. We know what it takes to get through those times when it’s tough and it no longer feels good. But we keep putting one foot in front of another, keep on believing, and keeping our spirits up. We’ll get through our suffering with a little confidence and a lot of hope. I like James 1:4 from the amplified Bible. It says, “But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfectly and fully developed, lacking in nothing.” When I think about my relationship with God, I want to do His Will. I know that He has a great plan for me that is uniquely for me and I know that ultimately I will be happiest if I say yes to His will and His plan for my life. I think about some of my struggles that I have in my personal life and I don’t give up when times are hard, I try not to complain when things aren’t going the way that I like them to. I keep my eyes on God, I choose to rest in Him and I thank Him for all that He’s doing in my life. God is a restorer, so I thank Him for the work that He is doing and the peace that He has given me. If I’m in God’s will, if I go to Him when things are hard and give thanks continually in the good and bad times, resting in Him and thank Him for all His wonderful gifts and blessings, I lack nothing.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

LIVING FOR CHRIST





By Jeannie L Horton
Life Christian University student

INTRODUCTION
Chacalte is a very poor community located high in the mountains of the northern part of Guatemala and usually isn’t listed on any maps. To get to Chacalte, it’s a 7 ½ hour drive from Guatemala City and a 1 ½ hour drive from Nebaj, the nearest town. The roads are extremely run down and make traveling difficult and slow, especially during the rainy season. However, the close-knit community of Chacalte is extremely grateful and excited to see a group of missionaries that come twice a year, a near 20-hour trip. The missionary group is from Evergreen Christian Center located in Hillsboro, Oregon. They are the only group of missionaries that come, there is no one else. When you’re in the town, it’s almost hard to believe that 600 people reside in Chacalte. It appears to have one main dirt road, but after further examination, there are side roads. The side roads are steep and extremely slick especially when it rains. But for the kids who wear gel shoes and the mother’s who wear flip flops, they seem to get around fine. When the van carrying the missionaries arrives, almost every child comes out to greet them with such excitement, they even chase the bus! This year was different as more adults from Chacalte came out to greet and shake our hands. They trust us to come back and relationships are being formed. We are salt and light to them, showing them the love that God has for them.
As Christians, we are called by God to be seen by others as living examples of the love and grace of God, which others are encouraged to follow. God loves all of His children and He truly wants us to live the Godly lives He intended for us from the beginning of time. We do this by staying close to Him, influencing the world as Christians, and letting God’s light shine before others. 
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven (Mathew 5:13-16). 
These verses are from the Sermon on the Mount, found in Mathew 5-7. It is part of Jesus’ Galilean ministry and is one of Christ’s most famous teachings, consisting of a variety of topics that dealt with matters of the heart. The sermon occurred on a mountaintop above the city of Capernaum. The twelve Disciples of Christ were there, along with a great crowd who came to listen.
I.       THE IMPACT OF SALT AND LIGHT
Why is God comparing us to salt and light? Salt is a preservative, it enhances flavor, and makes us thirsty! As Christians, we are the salt of the world. We are to preserve God’s greatness; Enhance the flavor of God, and make people thirst for God! We can do this with the help of the Holy Spirit and by being obedient to Christ. We want others to get a taste for something better, to thirst for the Living Water that is Christ, for it is He who came to give eternal life!
Jesus also has called us to be light to this world, for God is light. “For God Who said, Let Light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah)”(2 Corinthians 4:6). The Dictionary defines light as a “source of illumination.” Illumination, as part of the 5 infallible steps of faith, is when God’s Word awakens within our hearts, mind, and soul. “Illumination is when God is able to bring across spiritual truth from His kingdom in such a way that suddenly our minds are in agreement with our spirits” (Wingate 85). Christians shine Light in a dark and sinful world through the truth of God’s Word. We shine God’s light into the hearts of unbelievers and help bring them to a place of faith in God.
II.      STAYING CLOSE TO CHRIST
God loves us, and truly wants a close relationship with us. Just as salt and light can dissolve, we can also as Christians!  I believe that in order for us to stay on fire for God, we need to stay close to Him. Most importantly, we need to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind; He needs to be #1 in our lives. He wants us to daily read and study His Word. It is not for His benefit, but ours! God’s Word is a love story to us from Him; it’s an instructional manual on how to live the best possible life that He intended for us, and is a useful tool to fight against the attacks of the enemy! We are to worship Him and pray daily, asking Him for everything, from the big things to the little things. He wants us to go to church as often as we can, as an act of obedience; fellowshipping with other believers and receiving encouragement. When we sin, we should ask for forgiveness and repent immediately as sin breaks the fellowship with Him. And be thankful, giving thanks to Him for everything! He’s the God of life, glory, love, mercy, goodness, grace and hope! Everything He does is good and for our benefit so we should thank Him for it.
III.    WE ARE TO INFLUENCE THE WORLD AS CHRISTIANS
Joyce Meyer says that “All life is tasteless without love. Even acts of generosity done out of obligation, but without sincere love, leave us empty. Love represents the salt; it is the energy and the flavor of our lives” (Meyer 1485).
We serve a great God and we need to fill our lives daily with Him and share His love with others. As a believer, I want God’s love to shine through me. I want my life to be a reflection of who He is and I want people to say, “There’s something different about her!” Since we may be the only Christ some people will ever see, I want to live as God commands me to live in His Word and I want His light to shine through me and make people thirst for Him! 
With the help from Food For The Hungry, the missionaries from Evergreen Christian Center have a 10-year commitment to go. (This is the 3rd year). According to the Food For The Hungry website, it is an organization that “provides life-changing resources such as clean water, medical aid, food, equal educational opportunities to girls and boys, vocational training and empowerment in the midst of unimaginable hardships.” (www.fh.org). With each visit, the relationship with the community gets stronger. My daughter and I were on this year’s trip to Chacalte, Guatemala. The trip lasted 8 days and our time in Chacalte was four.
While in Chacalte, our main purpose was to install water filters in the homes and to put on a vacation bible school for the kids. It was the women that wanted the filters. By installing these filters, we were saying “Yes, we heard your requests, you matter and we care about you!” Normally what the families had to do was boil water on a wood burning stove to get rid of bacteria so that they could drink and use it in their food. During our stay, three groups of at least 5 missionaries went into 15 homes a day to install the water filters. We also showed the families how to use them and clean them.  Each time we finished installing the filters, we prayed with them. When we were finished, they all said the same thing; that they were very grateful for the filters because it would save them a lot of time and firewood.
We also put on a VBS for the kids each day. Our main goal was to teach them how to hear from God. We did this through skits, coloring, worship, and games. We knew that if just one kid understood what we were trying to teach them, that person would go and tell the other kids and their families what they’ve learned. I am pleased to say, several got it and they saw the Light!
IV.      LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE BEFORE MEN
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven” (Mathew 5:16). I believe this verse is saying that we need to live our lives in such a way that makes people thirsty for God. We want to give the world a taste and glimpse of who Christ is, so as believers, we should strive to do our best to follow His perfect example. They will see how we live our lives, God’s light that we give off; they will see our good deeds, and they will want to also praise and glorify Him who is in heaven.
Fresh water is something that the youngest children of Chacalte don’t think much of. They know when they are thirsty; their mom gives them something to drink. But, to most of the community, the ease of how they now obtain fresh water means a lot. The kids in this village do know that twice a year, a group of missionaries comes to visit and play with them and they feel God’s love! For this community, they don’t have a lot and they are not visited by outsiders often, but the impact of each special visit will live in their hearts for a long time.
CONCLUSION
“Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you,  and behold, I am with you all the days, to the close and consummation of the age” (Mathew 28:19-20).
As Christians, the world is watching us. I want to show the world the love of God and I want to share His goodness and glory. I want people to come to know Him as I do and to have faith in Him. He has said in His Word that we are the salt and light of Him and that is what we truly are. We are called to live as Christ commanded in His word, loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind and being led by love for others as He did. We are to stay on fire for Him by staying close to Him. We are called to be Christ-like imitators, letting God’s light shine before others, to influence the world, and to go out into the world as His disciples making new disciples. I want Him to be proud of me and to one day say, “well done you true and faithful servant.” 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

All scriptural quotations are from Meyer, Joyce. The Everyday Life Bible: Containing the Amplified Old Testament and the Amplified New Testament. New York: Faith Words, 2013.

Agnes, Michael. Webster's New World Dictionary. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.


Wingate, Douglas. Divine Faith & Miracles. Harrison House Inc, 2012.


Meyer, Joyce. The Everyday Life Bible: Containing the Amplified Old Testament and the Amplified New Testament. New York: Faith Words, 2013.


"Food for the Hungry Works to End Poverty in the World's Hardest Places." Food for the Hungry. Accessed July 25, 2017. https://www.fh.org/about/.