Are you Intense-Red Hot-Ever Present?

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Hello friends. For all of those out there experiencing true summer heat, fall should be here in about 65 days. Yes, that does seem so far away when the average temperature is around 105 or higher! Global warming has become front and center for many this year.

Intense-red hot-ever present

Refining ministry just completed the series entitled “Major Wisdom through Minor Prophets” this past Monday night. We have been on a journey studying each minor prophet for quite some time and would like to thank every person who joined us throughout this timeframe. The depth of understanding, sharing, and growth has been outstanding on many levels. (And to think we only meet online for one hour each Monday night!)

Our last study was over the book of Zechariah. The Read Scripture overview describes it as a roller coaster ride. It is filled with visions, prophecy, harsh judgment, and direct commands to name a few. Yet, Zechariah is intense-red hot-ever present in all that he delivers. He is known as the most apocalyptic and messianic of all minor prophets.

For me, Zechariah was a book which had to be digested one bite at a time. Symbolism, terminology, customs, prophetic aspects of the second coming of Christ, interpretations of visions, rituals, and the list goes on. There were times when even the commentaries and study resources were overwhelming. However, I am so thankful for Zechariah on many levels. It made me reflect on my life with the main question:

Are you intense-red hot-ever present for the LORD?

Zechariah presented his audience with hope, encouragement, warning, instructions, and the glimpse of a future King. Over the past seven weeks, I went chapter by chapter looking for direct instructions of how I could increase my spiritual walk and intensify my relationship with God. Zechariah allowed me to reevaluate my spiritual priorities and take a closer look at my daily habits.

Today, I would like to share the list with you. As you read over each item, let it wash over you and encourage you in your personal walk. Allow the Holy Spirit to highlight a couple of areas where you can crank up the heat for the LORD then take it to God in prayer. Enjoy!

  • Exercise the listening muscle
  • Be still to hear God’s voice
  • Watch out for worldliness (externally & internally)
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Return to God quickly when you stray
  • Embrace the fire (life trials)
  • Rely on the Holy Spirit
  • Stay in God’s Word
  • Encourage others to invest in Scripture
  • Recognize sinning religion (a state of spiritual disobedience)
  • Only God is holy to judge
  • Have diligent obedience
  • Worship is more important than performing a religious ritual
  • Have a sincere desire to know God
  • Fully surrender your heart to the LORD
  • Carry out His commands with a joyful spirit
  • Speak truth
  • Live peacefully
  • Exercise justice
  • Love God’s ways
  • Seek only the approval of the LORD
  • Do not be afraid because God is your defender
  • Deal with sin barriers
  • Stay under the LORD’s authority
  • Intentional spend time with the father
  • Find your identity in God
  • Connect with like-minded Christians
  • Carry out God’s work at all costs
  • Stay dependent upon the LORD

Thank you, Zechariah! I loved the summer message:

God is intense-red hot-ever present for each of us!

YIKES! Change Found Me

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Romans 12:1-2: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Happy HOT summer my friends. Boy, the change in weather occurred recently-it was 109 degrees this past weekend. I wasn’t ready for it nor the fact that it came with 20-30 mph wind gusts. It made me want to skip over the next three months and go straight to fall.

But this isn’t the only change that found me over the past week. I went from a headache to a full-blown sinus infection in less than 24 hours. Having a fever during the intensive heat was draining and once again I found myself wanting to skip over the next few days and go straight to feeling better!

And then…a change I knew would come sooner or later yet, for some reason I didn’t think it would heavily impact me. In less than a week, I have a new direction in my employment along with several others in my department. Change-I normally like it! Can I just skip to September 1st and know the end results of all of this?

Yes, I like change and I am an advocate for change. I find freshness and excitement in learning and experiencing new things. However, I want to be the agent of change and I would prefer it be on my terms! My first reaction when change finds me—well, let’s just say over time it seems to get better.

As I sit here mentally preparing for a job interview, God’s wisdom washes over me. He reminds me that none of this surprises Him. He allowed some overnight changes for a reason. The LORD gently reminds me that He is in control and my future is secure in His hands. No change on earth will alter His great love for me nor the overwhelming attributes of His character. I have a steadfast Father who has my back!

What about you? How do you handle change? When you journey from mountain top to valley low to long straight plains and repeat again and again, do you ever want to skip over the waiting, healing, unknowns, transitioning, etc.? Do you have a hope outlook or a doom and gloom perspective when unwanted change comes?

God really shared His perspective for me in all of this.

Change found Jesus Christ. He went from a perfect man to a shredded form of life in a matter of a few days. The weight of the world was placed on His shoulders. His earthly life was taken in the most painful manner and given a resting place in a tomb. Life on earth was turned upside down and a new covenant was established. Yet, it came with brokenness and blood. A change that made a way for all of humanity to be saved if they would only believe. Change found him because God loved us.

Through it all, God stayed steadfast. The LORD kept His promises, and He gave the world a Savior, the Messiah, a fulfillment of prophesy and full depth of love. Where would we all be if it wasn’t for the change? And Christ submitted to the call of change.

Romans 8:6: The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Perspective of God towards me – Relax! Change has found you for a reason. Don’t skip the experience and take each step in full confidence that I have worked out your pathway. You don’t need to be afraid, upset, or nervous in the days ahead. Live each moment with hope in ME. I will not change, and I will be beside you always. Now, go face that interview!

Hope found in a Savior

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The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT)

Welcome to Advent season. The Refining Ministry is excited to offer an online study this year to devote intentional time focusing on the hope, joy, peace, and love found in Christ Jesus. Our kickoff began last night. We will continue this study for the next three weeks on Sunday afternoons at 4:30 p.m. (CST).

Have you ever had a time in life when you felt hopeless? Maybe after a loss, accident, broken relationship, or completely spent because of life. During these times, we desperately search for a sustaining solution. We cry out for something beyond encouragement-we need hope within our soul to give us a glimpse of better days ahead.

Not much has changed in over 20 centuries-humans continue to have problems. In fact, I would dare to say the advancement of technology has increased the numerous issues for society. However, regardless of the challenges we face or not, each one of us need hope-a hope beyond what the world can supply.

Prior to the birth of Christ, the world waited expectantly for a redemptive King, one who would impart a resolution for their craving of nourishing hope. They never imagined Emmanuel would enter the world during a wintry darkness let alone as a baby in a humble manager. BUT GOD-He fulfilled all needs and delivered an enduring gift which would rescue everyone from sin and unrighteousness.

The Messiah came to provide hope, joy, peace, and love through His redemptive gift of salvation. God’s exceedingly great love embodied in Christ Jesus extended a way for us to be with God now and forever if we so choose. Emmanuel, being fully God, became fully human, to live among us, and die in a humiliating fashion as a sacrifice of love. Wow-what amazing hope we have because of the price Jesus paid.

Derwin Gray describes Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as the greatest gift—God’s presence on the tree. I cannot think of a grander act in all the world that can truly supply enduring hope than what was displayed by our sacrificial King. For all who believe, Christ is a vivid ray of hopefulness. We have so much to look forward to-the second coming-eternal life with God.

May your confidence in the Lord grow this Christmas season. Through His presence and promises, may you find great expectations for better days ahead. Let the hope found through the gift of Jesus deliver strength to face any issues at hand. Together, we pray for God to fill our hearts with optimism and encouragement as we journey through daily life.

Let us end with a prayer of Hope:

Heavenly Father, thank you for being our living hope. As the Advent season begins, we come to you in need of hope. Lord, we need your endless hope for many areas in our lives. Lord, we have feelings of sorrow, depression, anxiety, fear, health concerns, and so much more, but today, we intentional pause and lay these issues at your feet. Help us to cling to your unfailing love.

Father God, empower us with your hope. Fill us to overflowing so we may reflect Your hope for the world to see. We are so grateful for you being our only hope. May we always remember You are our hope-yesterday-today-and forever. We love you LORD. Amen.

Advent Week One: HOPE

Most dictionaries will define hope as an expectation or desire for something to transpire. The Word of God provides followers hope which exceeds anything the world can promise. Our Father offers steadfast truth shown to be reliable and trustworthy. We are reminded of this in scripture.

In Hebrews 6:15-20 God’s Word states:  And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

God has proven over and over that His Word is dependable and unswerving to establish hope beyond a mere wish. Hope by God’s design surpasses any earthly classification or meaning. Our God has clarified the hope He gives through His track record of fulfilled assurances. He promised and furnished salvation to all through the gift of Jesus Christ. Our Father goes above and beyond any human guarantee. The Lord does not waver. In Numbers 23:19 it states:  God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

What are you counting on in life? A career, spouse, family, friends, stock market, co-workers, paycheck, self, material items, . . .  Where is your hope?

Psalm 62:5-8

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

First Sunday of Advent Isaiah 9:2, 6-7:
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

Dear Father, Thank you for your offering of hope through your son, Jesus Christ. You, O Lord, are our hope and we are dependent upon you for all our needs. May your precious gift of eternal life ring out from our hearts for the world to hear of your sweet love. Let us walk out our salvation by strengthening our relationship with you. Father give us pure hearts, humble spirits, and strong faith. We are forever grateful for your astounding hope. Amen.

Despair Repair

Feel It

The world serves heaping portions of suffering, anguish, and misery. We have all experienced the ups and downs of life. Heartbreaking news, loss, addictions, health issues, overwhelming life circumstances, and many others chip away at our ability to be a warrior of God.  

During my darkness, I desperately craved effective ways to keep my eyes on God. I wasn’t prepared for the despair. There were days when I questioned if I would fully recover from it all. Yet somehow God found methods to give me strength and endurance when I really wanted to end it all.

Overflow

I love worship and praise music. It speaks deeply to my soul and has a way of expressing my thoughts and feelings when I fall short on words. Toby Mac is one artist who brought light into my pit for those five years. Songs like: Lights Shine Bright, Til the Day I Die, Love Broke Thru, Backseat Driver, and Feel It. Over and over the lyrics would ring through my mind along with scripture to help me fight against the enemy.

This week has brought tragedy to the McKeehan family. Toby Mac lost his oldest son Truett. My heart goes out to family as they walk through this time. Please pray for their healing. May they feel the love of God surrounding them during their grief.

I Just Need You

God has us all on a journey and we must not forget that no one is exempt from difficulty in life. Our Father can repair our despair. He is still in the miracle business creating goodness from our deepest pain. Embrace your journey and allow God to refine you. Know what keeps you connected to Him: scripture, prayer, music, etc…  

Lord, I Need You!

UPDATE: Toby Mac voices his grief in song.

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