Happy New Year Friends! We look forward to walking through 2021 with you. As intentional partners, we are here to supply encouragement with your spiritual growth posture. Our main goal is to support your personal relationship with God and strengthen your reliance on Scripture. We are preparing for great times ahead in the upcoming months.
Prayers and best wishes from our ministry team and partners! We love you!!
I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. Jeremiah 24:7 (NIV)
Cold, winter greetings. Today has brought quite the chill compared to recent days. I enjoy the variety of seasons and I am even a fan of snow. God’s creation amazes me and it can be quite unpredictable. Even the weather forecast can get it wrong occasionally. However, God never gets anything wrong. His ways are perfect along with His timing.
This brings to mind a couple of thoughts today.
1. How do you prepare for the unpredictable? You are unaware it is coming and then it happens. Take Covid-19 for instance. A year ago, most of us could not imagine life as we know it today. Why? Because it was something we had never experienced. Did it catch us off-guard? Probably, but it didn’t surprise God.
If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited. Proverbs 24:10
Life is definitely changeable. Many events are so unforeseeable and far from anticipated. Yet these unexpected events teach us not be overly stunned when things do occur. No matter how startled we are, we must prepare for them. But how?
I believe it requires three basic steps:
First it starts with us accepting the fact astonishing events will come.
Next, we must continue to grow in our faith and trust in the Lord. As we draw closer to God, Scripture tells us He will do the same.
And finally, we have to set up daily provisions in our lives to be able to stand firm during a storm.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8:35
These are routines which allow us to tap into a strength beyond our human means. Prayer, listening to God, daily Scripture reading, being in touch with the Holy Spirit, presenting ourselves powerless before the Lord, etc. When we take on an eternal mindset, we realize preparing goes beyond “if the shocking day will come” to “when the alarming day comes”. Our Father wants us ready and prepared.
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him. Nahum 1:47
2. How do you avoid slipping away from God when normal support systems fail? Small groups, face-to-face bible studies, accountability partners, worship, church sermons, etc. are just a few of the measures we use to stay connected and growing spiritually. But what happens when all is stripped away? It is like ice-skating across the parking lot without the proper equipment after an unexpected winter storm produces 2 inch gift of solid ice. No doubt, it is hard to avoid sliding out of control.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2
So how do we avoid the slip? I think this is a question many Christians are asking themselves in 2020. Even churches across the world have found it difficult to fill in the gaps when “normal” could not occur. It is not surprising to see brothers and sisters in Christ sliding away and stumbling upon false means to keep the fall from hurting. Yet I really believe there are ways to keep gliding along and prevent from stumbling.
Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock. Isaiah 26:4
Regardless of what is offered around us, we must hold on to our commitment to God. We have to continue our growth journey even if all the support systems end. Our spiritual maturity is our personal responsibility so we have to plan for it. The Lord provided all we need-His Word and the Holy Spirit. When we substitute these things with close associations it will leave us holding the short end of the stick. This is far from what God intended.
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:3
To avoid the slip,
we have to take ownership of our faith. The realization for our spiritual growth pathway has to begin with the image in the mirror.
Daily we have to train ourselves to tap into God’s two resources-Scripture and the Holy Spirit within us. When we are able to do this routinely, then we are better prepared to continue maturing in our faith especially when our Christian world provisions whither or are promptly disrupted.
Basically, we must assume the proprietorship of continuing to develop in Christ.
But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress. Psalm 59:16
As I ponder the response to each of these questions, I find myself challenged. For me, God is prompting me to be more relational routinely. The Holy Spirit is working within me and showing me the map to real hope in God. Slowly, I am realizing it is my responsibility to tap into God’s resources. So, my maturity in Christ hinges upon my efforts and the growth plan I carry out. I cannot survive life’s surprises by relying on anything or anyone but the true source of hope, GOD!
What is your takeaway?
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
Good morning friends! Have you ever scrolled through social media and been blessed by the words of a brother or sister in Christ? Yesterday, I had the privilege to read a post crafted by Pam Brown, worship pastor for Amarillo Fellowship. Her openness and direct message are sound advice for each of us as we continue to find ways to respond to 2020.
I love how her writing reflects the foundational concepts Refining promotes: really getting to know God and spending time in His Word. Pulling away from the world and just listening to His voice is such a key element that we often place on the back burner. Yet, each day we are given the freedom to decide how we will follow His overall purpose for each of us: LOVE
Thank you, Pam for being our guest writer today. Your words are too precious not to share. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
I choose Jesus!! I will choose Jesus every time!! My heart is to stand for what God stands for— not my own agenda! My heart is to get close to God’s heart and know Him in such a way that His desires become mine!! His heart for the world becomes mine!
There is so much “noise” happening sometimes it can be hard to distinguish His voice, but getting alone — spending time in his word— cancelling the world’s voice (which is screaming pretty loud right now) — is the only way!!
HERE IS WHAT I KNOW
-God is Good!
-God is faithful- even when we are not!
-God is Love – it’s not just a part of who He is but it is Who He is!
-God is just!
-God loves and cares deeply for the poor and helpless in our world and wants no one to suffer from the evil in the world!
-God loves everyone, but He has a special love for Israel and those who pray for Israel and support her God blesses!
-God does not see people the way we do— He sees us in our humanity, but He doesn’t judge us by that. He speaks life over us and calls out the destiny that He created and designed us to be!
-God hates division but loves unity!
I’ve meditated and prayed about speaking out and my voice being heard and all I keep hearing God say is — respond like I would — what does that even mean?
There were times Jesus became angry-so yes-I’ve had righteous anger when I see innocent lives of babies being aborted or lives of any color being discriminated against! Or young children being sold into a life of sex trafficking!! It sickens me to the core!! That’s not Ok!!
It can all feel so overwhelming-I’m just one person, but we can all do something!
I believe it all begins with Love!! Not to sound sappy because what I know about love is it’s HARD!! It’s not for the wimpy— to love means to give when you’ve got nothing left to give — to love means there is long suffering involved!! To love means you don’t give up when the going gets tough! But you stand! You pray!! You fast!! You persevere!! You never give up!! And that’s when you see the fruit of your labor come to life!!
So, in this crazy season— what can we do?? LOVE!! Love like your life depends on it because it does!! I really hope and pray this brings hope to someone today!
Pam’s Bio: I’m married and 49 years old- mother of two incredible sons, I have 2 beautiful daughters in law, 1 precious granddaughter, (who lights up our life) another granddaughter on the way! In January I’ll be celebrating 30 years of marriage to the love of my life! I’ve been in full time ministry for 30 years- and for the past 19 years I have served alongside my husband as the worship pastor as he is the lead pastor at Amarillo Fellowship. My heart is to love people and encourage them to know how much the Father loves them and has a great destiny for their lives!