Don’t stop celebrating!

SCRIPTURE: ACTS 16:16-34 “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” (v25-26)

OBSERVATION: Amongst the hysteria of the time, there were those who were profiteering of the miracolous works that Jesus and his disciples had demonstrated.  Paul and Silas had been sent to prison for calling out one of these such charlatan by using the name of Jesus Christ to free a girl from demonic possession, and removing the income source this girl was able to provide.

APPLICATION: Things happen in life that bind and restrict people.  The girl in this story was demon possessed, Paul and Silas were bound in chains along with other prisoners.  The sentence given saw them placed ‘into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.’ (v24)  This makes prisons in our modern western culture seem luxurious.  The smells wouldn’t have been fresh, and the lack of natural light could have added to the depresive environment.

Paul and Silas had a chioce – be bitter and angry about the miscarriage of justice, and the circumstnaces they found themselves in; or remember that the God whom they love and served is bigger than anything this world could throw at them.  We read that at midnight, when it always seems the darkest, when things are coming to an end that they were found to be ‘praising and singing hymns to God.’ (v25)  It was their choice to celebrate life and the freedom that they knew they had in God, that could not be taken away from them that changed their environment.  Their spritual focus created a natural response that led to an earthquake that impacted everyone around them.  Their declared words of faith and hope brought them a freedom that impacted those around them.

We can all make a choice in our lives, to focus on how big God is and not how big our problems can appear.  Our praise and breakthrough can overflow into the lives of others.  Do you keep your praise and thanksgiving to God to yourself or do you shout it out and declare it for all to hear?  People are listening, so continue the celebration of praise that Passover represents and see how many people around you receive some of your overflow breakthrough.

PRAYER: God I am so thankful for who you are and praise you despite what my circumstance say, beacuse you have the last say.  AMEN

Celebration Time

passover

SCRIPTURE: Exodus 12:1-28 “that you shall say ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when he struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.'” (v27 NKJV)

OBSERVATION:  Passover, or Pesach (Hebrew) is a Jewish festival which commemorates the story in Exodus in which the ancient Israleites were freed from slavery in Egypt.  This year, the passover festival is celebrated from sunset on April 22 for seven or eight days.  This passage outlines the account in Exodus when the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron giving them some commands to follow to see them released from their captors.

APPLICATION: You may not be Jewsish, or interested in remembering anything to do with the history of the Israelite people, but you can still learn something from this story, and this Festival that celebrates the freedom that God wants you to experience.

If you thought about what is going on in your life right now, what could metaphorically represent Egypt.  What barriers, attitudes or mindsets are holding you captive.  The Israelites had no freedom to live their lives how they wanted to, they were expected to live and assimilate into the culture of their captors.  That sounds like the characteristics of an addiction – being held captive to somethig you cannot find a way out from.

Maybe its time to change your perspective on your struggles.  This Passover Festival is a essentially a week long party to celebrate God’s goodness and breakthrough.  Instead of focussing this week on where you haven’t seen your breakthrough manifest yet, why not celebrate those areas that God has provided for, the breakthroughs from your past, the relationships that have sown good fruit into your life.  Give PRASIE to God for those miracolous provisions of resources in times of need.  Give Thanks for the healing that you saw, or the good health that you have enjoyed for so long.  Maybe you have seen someone elses breakthrough and are needing some of that yourself, then PRAISE God for what He did in that persons life.  Ask Him to DO IT AGAIN.  Celebrate life with your friends this week.

The power of the declared word includes your testimony.  Start speaking out, not just in your head, giving thanks for those Egypt’s that you have conquered and watch how your perspective changes.  Like the old Hymn said “Count you Blessings…and it will surprise you what the LORD has done.”

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank you for all that you have already done in my life and for those things yet to come. AMEN

Life Changing Encounters

SCRIPTURE: Mark 5:25-34 “When she heard about Jesus, she came behind him in the crowd and touched His garment.  For she said ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.’ (v27-28 NKJV)

OBSERVATION: The woman in this well known and preached about story struggled for answers to her chronic problem for over a decade.  We read that she sought help but “had suffered many things from many physicians and was acutally worse.” (v26)  Luke’s account of the story says that she “had spent all her livliehood on physicians.” (Luke 8:43)  It would appear that all she had left was a faith that this man named Jesus who was healing people, could heal her.

APPLICATION: There are somethings in life that we can’t seem to find answers to, things we can’t shake off.  The breakthrough seems to be teasing us, callling us to continue to believe, but never acheiving it.  You may have a health issue in your life that has been limiting you for a few months, years, even decades.  You might have tried all the worldy offerings to resolve your issue.  You might have tried everything and even your faith is waning.

The woman in this story is attributed to have been healed by her encounter with  Jesus because she touched him.  I want to suggest to you that Jesus response to being touched, and feeling that something had gone from within him actually goes deeper than the natural contact.  Jesus says that her faith healed her.  She had just enough faith left in her after all these years to believe that with just one encounter with Jesus her life would turn around, her breakthough would intersect with her present reality.

Contrasting this womans story is the encounter that Saul of Tarsus had with Jesus on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19).  Saul was on a mission to kill all those who professed to believe in Jesus Christ and were teaching that the Kingdom of God was at hand.  While traveling to Damascus, Saul had an encounter with Jesus that stopped him in his tracks.  This encounter changed the course of his life.

The contrast between these two encounters demonstrates that it doesn’t matter whether you have been waiting for  a breakthrough for decades with only your faith intact, or your life is similiar to Saul in not being able to tollerate anything to do with Jesus Christ, but, that one encounter with Jesus Christ can bring your breakthrough.  What do you need a Jesus encounter to change in your life?

PRAYER: Jesus I need to encounter you.  AMEN

What peace?

SCRIPTURE: John 14:25-30 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither be afraid.” (v27 NKJV)

OBSERVATION: Jesus is breaking the news to his dicsiples that He won’t be around for much longer.  He assures them that in his physical absence, they will still be able have the peace that they felt in His presence.  This was going to happen through the Holy Spirit, whom the Father was going to send In Jesus Name.

APPLICATION:  Have you ever had a deep friendship with someone that ended in a dramatic way?  Someone with whom you felt you had known for years, but in reality it had only been a short time?  Those feelings are probably similiar to how the disciples were feeling at hearing this news.  Having spent the past few years travellng with Jesus, their bond must have been deep.  Now He is talking about replacing himself with and tells them to chill, relax, she’ll be right: Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (v27)

Jesus says to his disciples that He was leaving them with a kind of peace that they had never encountered before, a kind of peace that they would not experience from any other source.  The Hebrew word used by Jesus is shalom, which is most commonly understood to only mean peace.  Shalom means so much more that just peace.  It is a Hebrew/Yiddish greeting that is returned, it is used to welcome someone (hello) and to farewell someone also (goodbye).  It’s meanings  also include: completeness, soundess, welfare, whole, safety, health, prosperity, friendship, tranquility and contentment.

Jesus’ pending departure may have seemed like a wrecking ball to the disciples confidence and hope for the future, but He gifted them with a declared peace that would change them forever.  Jesus’ declaration was removing limtations to their understanding, opening up new opportunities they had never considered.  Maybe its time to use the words of Jesus as a wrekcing ball to your limiting barriers, attitudes and mindsets.  Maybe its time to use the word shalom as a wrecking ball to areas you aren’t experiencing peace in your life. Speak more than just peace into your situation, declare some completeness in areas of lack, soundness into unholy thoughts in your mind, welfare and health into your body, prosperity into your whole life, not just your finances, tranquility into the storms that are buffeting you, or contentment with your current season.

PRAYER: In Jesus Name, I declare SHALOM in my life. AMEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flowing Rivers Bring Life

SCRIPTURE: Exekiel 47:1-12 “And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live.  There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.” (v9 NKJV)

OBSERVATION:  Ezekiel describes a vision that progresses from the Temple of God where there is a flow of water that comes from within the centre of the Temple and increases as it flows outwards.  The progression of this vision demonstrates the increase as the river flows outward.  As he travels along the bank of the river, there are markers where the depth is noted as being deeper than the previous marker, until the water level required him to swim.

APPLICATION:  This story presents a challenge to the reader. A challenge of where you are at on your journey of faith.  Since you became a Christian, have you remianed in the shallows, dipping your toes?  Have you prorgessed into the deeper waters, getting water up to your knees, or have you gone beyond the depth where your feet can no longer touch the bottom?  The story does not place judgement on you if you remain dipping your toes in the shallows.  To the contrary, where ever the river flows, there is life.  The key here is the flow of the river.

A river that has been flowing for many years can meander around obstacles until it  eventually forces its way through to create a more direct flow.  When a river is blocked from its natural course, the flow is stiffled, slowed down, or even dammed – it becomes a reservoir.  It may be a slow progression where the change in speed of the water isn’t too obvious.  However, anythng that depends upon the flow for life, the movement of life giving sustainance will begin to deteriorate.

What kind of river does your life currently represent?  Is there a flow about you, that the life giving nutrients that you feed yourself with is impacting those around you?  When people bump into you, are they left with a splash of the life within you?  Or are there barriers, attitudes or mindsets that are having a toxic impact on all that comes out from within you?  Have you been contending to breakthrough obstacles for years, even decades?  Try changing your outward expression to one of Praise and Thanksgiving.  Try complimenting others or smile at those you come into contact each day.

PRAYER:  Lord, show me how to bring life and healing to all by what comes out of me. In Jesus Name.