If you've ever gone to a public high school, you know there are different groups with which kids associate. Some groups are formed on the basis of social status, some on intelligence, some on common interests. But whether it's the wealthy, the brainy or the golf pros, within each group, certain individuals stand out. They are the popular ones, the ones people are drawn to. When they walk into a room or down the hall, there is always a crowd of people following them.
Why is this? Probably because they are more beautiful or more gifted or have more bubbly personalities than the rest. Whatever the trait, there is something that distinguishes them from everyone else.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many professing Christians in America, yet so few cities that have been truly transformed for Christ? Why, in prayer meetings and conferences, we passionately cry out for nations to be saved in a day; yet our local spheres of influence remain largely unchanged year after year?
The answer can be found by examining the historical seeds of past revivals. For example, legend has it that Jonathan Edwards, before the birthing of the Great Awakening, made a covenant with God. Standing on a riverbank, he cried out to God for revival in the land. Drawing a circle in the sand, he pledged that before God could take the city, the region, the nation, He must start here—and he pointed to the circle. Then Edwards stepped into the circle.
To the woman at the well, Jesus asked, "Will you give me a drink?" I can't imagine being asked by the living water Himself to fetch Him some refreshment. Yet Jesus asks us to quench His thirst—to bring Him something that will refresh Him. That makes me wonder, Is Jesus thirsty in my relationship with Him? Do I bring Him a cup of cold water in my worship, in my praise? Does my life water and refresh His heart?
One way we can refresh the heart of Jesus is by watering others. Jesus talked about water more than once. He tells us that when we give a drink to others we have done it unto Him.
We live in Colorado where the skies seemed to change every two minutes. Recently my husband, Terry, and I were out doing our errands for the day. Terry was driving with his eyes intently focused on heavy traffic, and I was riding with my eyes drawn to the expansive sky. A cloud above us was forming into a most unusual shape. "Whoa!" I exclaimed.
Terry heard my cry and reacted, suddenly applying the brakes. Through my side-view mirror, I saw a line of cars reacting to our car, screeching to a sudden halt.
The key to receiving God's blessing is to see ourselves and our inheritance from heaven's perspective.
Several years ago I was introduced to the poignant Irish hymn "Be Thou My Vision" for the first time. It quickly became a favorite, especially the stanza that reads: "Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise / Thou mine inheritance, now and always / Thou and Thou only, first in my heart / High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art."
Whenever I hear this verse--and I sing it often--I imagine the glorious, eternal riches of our inheritance in Christ. It is true that on Earth and in heaven, God has by His grace provided for us "one blessing after another" (John 1:16, NIV). Yet without eyes to see Christ as our inheritance and our chief aim, we don't recognize His blessings for what they are.
King David wrote: "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance" (Ps. 16:5).
In His sovereign, loving, infinite wisdom, God apportions to each of us what is to be ours. And He chooses better for us than we would choose for ourselves.
God selected an inheritance for Abraham that was beyond anything he knew to ask for. But He also told him, "'I am your shield, your very great reward'" (Gen. 15:1). Seeing God Himself as his true reward moved Abraham to forfeit the earthly, temporal riches of Haran in order to claim the eternal wealth of Canaan and a heritage through which all the peoples of the earth would be blessed (see Gen. 12:2).
In The Pursuit of God renowned preacher and author A.W. Tozer wrote about the significance of making God our treasure: "The man who has God for His treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness.
"Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever."
Although God deals with each of us in unique ways, His intentions toward us are the same as they were toward Abraham-to bless us and through us to bless others. The key to receiving His blessing is to see ourselves and our inheritance from heaven's perspective.
It will take this kind of spiritually enhanced vision to take our land, because in every case, there will most certainly be giants to conquer-enemies within and without. But we must believe that possessing our territory for ourselves and our descendants is worth the fight of faith we'll have to engage in.
Shake off any weariness or discouragement and take one faithful step at a time, boldly staking your claim: "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion [inheritance] forever" (Ps. 73:26).
Life brings its share of problems, but every problem has a promise that will lead to God's supernatural provision. Learn how.
This is a very personal confession of a pastor who has survived and prospered in the ministry for more than 50 years. What I am sharing is the result of the life lessons I have learned in those years. No one wants to hear from a prophet who has no scars.
I have endured many problems in my life. Some have been self-imposed, while other problems have been spiritual or physical attacks from the depths of hell. No matter what the source, God has used these problems to help build character, endurance and understanding. I have sometimes received God's supernatural promises swiftly, and other promises have taken me months or years to receive because of how I have conducted myself while in the problem.
I believe there is an all-knowing and all-powerful God who created the heavens and the earth and controls the affairs of men. I believe that every person has a divine destiny, one known only to God since before the world was created ... before we breathed our first breath. That divine destiny or purpose is our only path to love, joy and peace.
I also believe there is a divine principle found in sacred Scripture called "promise, problem and provision." Simply stated, God begins leading us to our divine destiny by giving us a scriptural promise. This is followed by a problem or series of problems meant to bring us to the level of spiritual maturity whereby we can receive His miracle provision. If we reject His provision, we will miss our divine destiny, and we will live our life without meaning or purpose.
A classic biblical illustration that helps us understand the absolute truth of promise, problem and provision is found in the example of the children of Israel. God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that He would give to them and their descendants a nation whose boundaries are forever specified in Scripture. This Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey, would be God's miracle provision.
The Jewish people became a nation in Egypt. God sent Moses as their deliverer and brought about the first Passover, which led them to their exodus out of Pharaoh's bondage. Then came the problems-at the Red Sea, with the idol crafted by Aaron at Mount Sinai, and at the tent of meeting where 250 Israelites who rebelled against Moses were buried alive by God in an earthquake.
The children of Israel were stuck in the wilderness-their problem-for 40 years, when it could have taken only 40 days to arrive at their promise. It is while in the problem that God exposes the inner weaknesses preventing His children from reaching their destiny. Eventually God allowed them to reach their Promised Land, His provision and their divine destiny.
Life brings its share of problems, but every problem has a promise that will lead you to God's supernatural provision-your promised land.
The "promised land" is your land, one flowing with milk and honey, a land of unspeakable abundance. It is a land filled with the favor of God, a land of love, joy and everlasting peace.
Problems not only happen to bad people; bad problems also happen to good people. Adversity is God's university! God has given to us more than 3,000 promises in His Word. Every promise is custom designed in heaven to help us journey through the problems of life and receive the supernatural provision available for each problem we encounter.
It is imperative for God's children to discover the principle for transforming the problems of our lives into the provisions of God. Promise, problem and provision is a supernatural principle based on the Word of God that will give you wells you did not dig, houses you did not build and vineyards you didn't plant. It will turn your darkest night to golden day. It will fill your desert into streams of living water.
Adapted from Life's Challenges, Your Opportunities by John Hagee, copyright 2009, published by Charisma House. This life-changing book includes encouraging testimonies of people just like you who encountered major problems, stood upon God's promises and received God's perfect provision for their lives. This book will give you the tools you need to move confidently through today's challenges. To order a copy click on this link.
What are you saying about your life? Words have power, and when you speak, ultimately you empower your words to materialize. Each of us has the ability to speak curses or blessings into our lives.
Whatever you hear, good or bad, will have an impact on you. So what have you been accused of over the years that would make you believe you can’t be successful? What lies have been told to you that say you can’t live a wonderful and fulfilling life? What untruths have been planted in your mind about your ability to accomplish great things?
Who’s been talking to you and to whom have you been listening? Who said you have to keep listening? Who said you can’t be free? If God didn’t say it, then it’s only someone else’s opinion!
Let’s agree in the beginning that there is one sure and final authority in our lives, and He is God. If you can initially accept and agree that there is a power greater than your circumstances, experiences, perceptions and surroundings, then you can grasp that there is a divine plan for your life and a divine authority in place to help you accomplish it.
By whose authority have you been making decisions for your life? Are you still basing the outcome of your life on the words of someone who didn’t believe in you? Are you still being hindered by the negative influences of your childhood? Are the broken dreams of your past depleting the potential for your future?
No one enters the world void of a purpose, plan and destiny that has been assigned since the beginning of time. Our objective is to discover that individual and unique plan and then fulfill the potential of the life we’ve been assigned. Without questions, there will be difficulties, challenges, and obstacles that arise to distract and discourage us from discovering our purpose, but we’ve been given a divine promise of success, and it is our responsibility to accept nothing less than overwhelming victory.
God has given each of us an instruction manual that tells us that through faith, positive affirmation and perseverance we can do all things. That statement has the ability to alter your future and establish the foundation of your faith. Are you willing to believe that it is possible to live life without limits? Are you willing to believe that the best is yet to come? Are you willing to believe you can? Who says you can’t?
We live in a world of possibilities—a “can be” “can do” society where nothing is impossible. You are a person with a purpose, which means that there is a specific assignment or life task that you’ve been given and must fulfill before you exit this realm.
The plan for your life may lead you to different people, places and situations than you ever imagined possible, but ultimately it leads to your predestined purpose in life. Nothing happens by chance, but rather by circumstance. You alone are responsible for reacting and responding to the circumstances in your life.
As people with a purpose, plan and destiny, we cannot afford to use confusion, chaos and difficult circumstances as excuses for failure. You can no longer accept you can’t. You must simply believe that you can. If you can conceive it and believe it, then there’s no reason you can’t achieve it.
I vividly remember being told, “You can’t” when I was a child. If I had listened to what was said, I wouldn’t be where I am today. When I was a boy, I was injured by a poisonous arrow shot through my right eye—leaving me poisoned, blind and in a coma. I recall my parents telling the story from the perspective of the doctor, who told them I would never come out of the coma and that I was going to die. I was in a coma for three months. When I finally came out of it, the doctor said that because of the poison in my body I would not live past my next birthday. Well, as you well know, I am still here, and I’ve lived well past that prediction.
I believe that most of us have been through similar scenarios in life. There are things you were told you couldn’t do, and as a result, you didn’t even try. Without a doubt, I know that everything we need to fulfill the divine plan, purpose and destiny for our lives is inherently a part of who we are. Everything that man said I could not do, I am doing!
People may try to put limitations on you based on tradition, the past, or their own experiences, but don’t let them do it. Only you and your divine destiny can define the boundaries and limits of your life.
Adapted from Who Says You Can’t? by Kingsley Fletcher, copyright 2009, published by Charisma Life. This book will bring you hope to see past where you came from, what you used to do, who you used to be, or what others said that you can and cannot do. It will inspire you to reach your full potential in God’s plan for your life. To order a copy click on this link.
My daughter Elisabeth came down the stairs one morning in a rather reflective mood. Lissy, as we affectionately call her, has the enthusiasm and energy of 10 people, so it was unusual to see her so absorbed in thought. But when she shared with me the insight she had received during her devotions, I understood why—and her words got me thinking, too.
Lissy had been reading the story about the time Mary poured an alabaster jar of perfume on Jesus. What had amazed her was that although Mary was performing a completely unselfish act, even those closest to Jesus--His own disciples--criticized her.
When I was growing up, I learned the meaning of standing strong in God by watching my family. They were living examples I could observe every day. I saw how faithful my parents were to God and to each other, and I wanted to be like that, too.
My mom was a deeply committed woman of God. I am convinced that every demon and devil of hell knew her name—her first name. My grandmother was so full of the power of the Holy Ghost that she could lay hands on the sick and, believe me, they would recover.
My daddy was a farmer, who started his day between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. But every morning, he would get up an hour or so before work to pray for everybody—12 kids and later, 50 grandkids.
Waiting rooms are not my favorite places. I get impatient. I sit there and jiggle my feet. I sigh. I have so many other things to do. Besides, those magazines are so old.
Waiting for God to show up can be a lot harder than waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Even on the doctor’s slowest day, I know I will get out of that waiting room after a few hours. Waiting for God is a little different. Waiting for Him can take an entire lifetime, and the magazines are optional.
You can make a whole career of waiting for God.
So, although it seems contradictory to say so, waiting is part of pursuing God’s moments in your life. Waiting—and being willing to wait—is a very important and practical part of any divine appointment.
The world today is full of people who are suffering from emotional pain. The cause is often abuse, rejection, abandonment, betrayal, disappointment, judgment, criticism or other negative behavior by others. This emotional pain can be more devastating than physical pain because people feel that they have to hide it and pretend it isn't real.
They know that many people find it easier to be understanding and sympathetic about physical ailments than emotional ones. But the truth is that our emotions are part of our makeup, and they can become sick like any other part of us.
If you have an emotional wound in your life, you need to know that Jesus wants to heal you. Don't make the mistake of thinking He is interested only in your spiritual life. Jesus wants to heal you everywhere you hurt!
Fifty years ago, famous novelist Ralph Ellison wrote about being black: "I am ...invisible...simply because people refuse to see me....When they approach me, they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me." His description applies equally well to those single people who believe they are disenfranchised because they are unattractive.
In today's world, beauty is a highly desired commodity. Even though most of us don't measure up to media standards for great looks, we believe physical beauty brings happiness. Despite the efforts of feminists, women still define themselves based on physical appearance. Those who don't score high on the cultural beauty scale deal with rejection more than those who do.
Beauty is an advantage in our society. That's why people spend billions of dollars on plastic surgery. But what happens when you, like most of us, aren't one of the "beautiful people"?
A reader from Utah expresses this dilemma. "I am an unmarried Christian woman with a female roommate. People often misjudge me based on my looks and living arrangement. I am not very pretty. I wear thick glasses that don't lend to contacts. I would like to be married, but so far there is no one interested in me. Would it be wrong to ask God to make me prettier? And how do I handle the unkind comments people make?"
People inside and outside the church do make judgments based on looks and marital status. Early on girls learn the lesson that appearance matters. Women internalize messages from magazines and other media that often lead to a preoccupation with beauty and attaining the perfect body. But asking God to make you prettier isn't the answer.
My advice to you and others in similar situations is to take the following steps.
Maximize what God has given you. Get a stylish haircut and eyeglass frames. Use makeup to enhance your skin and facial features. Dress in ways that flatter your shape and frame.
Exercise and keep your weight within a healthy range. Do all of this for you, not some potential boyfriend. You will feel more confident and more attractive.
Avoid comparing yourself with others. This is very hard to do when bombarded by nonstop images of glamour. But remember that pictures of models and movie stars are often computer-altered and airbrushed. Most women have to learn to accept the body they were given--imperfect as it is.
Concentrate on character. As trite as it sounds, inner beauty is more important in the long run than outer beauty. Physical beauty fades, but godly character makes people beautiful. It is not uncommon to hear couples talk about attractions that grew over time because of the inner beauty they saw in each other.
Realize that your self-worth comes from God. If you know how God sees you, it matters less what other people think. Your identity must be grounded in Him regardless of appearance. To Him, you are beautiful. He did not make a mistake when He made you. You are a result of His handiwork (see Eph. 2:10). You are wonderfully made (see Ps. 139:14). He loves you just as you are (see John 3:16). You are His child (see John 1:12).
Practice being assertive. When people make hurtful comments, let them know their words hurt. Speak up in a gentle but assertive manner. For example, the next time someone insinuates you are gay because you are unmarried and live with another single woman, say, "That insinuation hurts" or "Please don't judge me. You don't even know me. Instead, ask how you can pray for me."
A woman who is pretty does have an initial advantage meeting men, but beauty does not guarantee relationship success, high self-esteem or an interesting personality. Those things must be cultivated over time.
Focus on the things you can control, and work on those. And remember, inner joy and peace always are reflected outwardly. Confidence shines when you truly know who you are in Christ. In today's world, nothing could be more attractive.
Most of the women profiled did not set out to become full-time ministers, let alone apostolic church leaders. In fact, many of them had no formal Bible-school training when God first tapped them on the shoulder and they, like the prophet Jonah, tried to run from His call. But in spite of their seeming lack of preparation, their initial resistance and persecution from those around them, God led them supernaturally into leadership and is using them mightily to advance His kingdom. Will you fully heed to God's call on your life? These women did and they have impacted many lives on their journey.