Teachings from Nehemiah
Part 3: Keys to a Successful Start on Mission
It must have been an exciting day for Nehemiah. Accompanied by captains of the king’s army and horsemen, Nehemiah set out on mission to Jerusalem with the king’s letters in hand. (2:9) The letters were for the governors en route to allow Nehemiah and the others safe passage to Judah. (1:7)
At the beginning of the journey, Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard the news, and “they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.” (2:10) These men were rulers in areas outside Judah, and later would prove to be enemies of Nehemiah and the Israelites.
Once Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he was not in a hurry. He told no one of his mission right away. He was there 3 days before even surveying the damage on the wall. (2:11-12) Most likely he was praying and preparing himself for the next steps. Throughout the book of Nehemiah we see that he was a man who kept in step with God.
Nehemiah carefully viewed the damaged walls and gates of Jerusalem in order to assess what needed to be done. He took a few of his men to do this one night under cover of darkness. He was not yet ready to disclose his purpose for being in Jerusalem. (2:12-16)
As leaders in ministry, it’s important to follow God’s way and timing. Like Nehemiah, sometimes we begin our mission quietly, without fanfare. When the Lord says it’s time to involve others, then we can. The Lord shows us who to trust with certain responsibilities. Only God has the whole picture. We are to trust and follow Him step by step.
Then Nehemiah told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials and some others of his plan. He told them “of the hand of my God which had been good upon me.” He informed them of the king’s support. Their response: ” ‘Let us rise up and build.’ Then they set their hands to this good work.” (2:17-18)
When we go on mission, it is imperative that it is God’s plan, not our own, and that we have the necessary support. Then we must prayerfully plan the action steps.
As soon as the building project was about to begin, the enemy attempted to intervene, but Nehemiah stood his ground. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab, enemies of God’s people, “laughed at us and despised us, and said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?’ ” Nehemiah said, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.” (2:19-20)
As we, too, start out on mission for God, we can expect the enemy to try to stop us. The enemy uses people (sometimes people who have been for us) to prompt us to doubt we’ve heard from God, to question our motive or plan, to laugh at us, and even to declare the mission will surely fail. What we must do is stand with courage in who God says we are and what we’re about, declare a successful mission ahead, and proceed, determined to go on even when faced with opposition. “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. ” (Joshua 1:9)
It is important to note that Nehemiah made 3 points in his rebuke to his adversaries. He first declared that God in His sovereignty will prosper His servants on mission. In other words, God is in charge; this is His work, and He will see that it is accomplished. Next, he states the course of action — arise and build. Finally, he renounces the enemy by declaring that he has no right to interfere.
Let us learn from Nehemiah. When opposition comes, let us trust in God and resist the enemy. With courage let us declare God’s sovereignty over us and the work of our hands. Then let us take action, whatever action we are to take, as the Lord prompts, trusting in His provision and protection.
Fundamentally, we must pray. Let us undergird everything we do with prayer. We need to seek God together as teams and pray continually for each other and the work God has entrusted us to do. Fervent prayer is key to success. God can do a mighty work as we pray and allow Him to work through us.
Part 2: An Unexpected Beginning
Nehemiah 1:11 – 2:8
Action step #1 of the mission did not go as Nehemiah expected. It appears that he had done everything he knew to do to prepare. According to chapter 1, he fasted and prayed for the dire situation in Jerusalem. He said “yes” to God’s call to mission to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem, the city of his fathers’ tombs. He asked God for mercy to approach the king to get things started. However, when the time came to talk to the king, Nehemiah was “dreadfully afraid” (2:2) in a situation he surely did not expect. Nehemiah pressed through the fear, though, and completed action step #1.
As cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, God had placed Nehemiah in a trusted, privileged position. His job was to taste the wine to make sure it was not poisoned before serving it to the king. Furthermore, he was to appear composed, not revealing his emotions upon serving the king. If he did not succeed, he could be put to death.
According to the scripture, when Nehemiah served the king his wine one day, the king noticed that he looked sad and questioned him. Nehemiah became “dreadfully afraid”– after all, his life was now at stake! (2:1-2) He pressed through the fear, however, and told the king about the destruction in Jerusalem. (2:3)
“Then the king said to me (Nehemiah), ‘What do you request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven.” (2:4)
Not only did Nehemiah not back away because of the fear, but he had the wisdom to pray first before answering the king. He knew he needed to pray before going on with action step #1.
Nehemiah then asked the king for permission to leave for a time to rebuild the city. (2:5) He also asked for letters — for the governors en route to Judah to allow his passing through as well as a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, to supply timber for the work ahead. The king granted all of it “according to the good hand of my God upon me.” (2:7-8)
What can we learn from Nehemiah in these few verses?
First, he did not let fear stop him. Ask the king to take a lengthy leave from his privileged position? Believe God for favor and all the resources to complete such an undertaking? Although the scripture does not mention these fears, he likely had to push through these obstacles in his mind. Nehemiah chose to trust God. Also, he took the first step. Many quit before starting the mission because of the fear of starting and/or completing the assignment. We are to believe God at His word to us and go!
Additionally, it is important to note that in this scenario Nehemiah faced the enemy’s interference and overcame it. The fear that gripped his heart could have easily stopped him from pressing on and taking action step #1. Next, Nehemiah could have avoided answering the king’s question truthfully. It surely was not an ideal situation. However, he chose to have faith in God, pray in the midst of the conversation with the king, and ask for what he needed even though the circumstances of the conversation could have paralyzed him.
The enemy typically tries to stop us when we begin a new mission. Sometimes we, too, are on the threshold of embarking on mission when we could be easily sidetracked, delayed, or halted from advancing. “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9) Extra prayer support at such times is imperative.
As leaders we are not in this alone. God is on our side, equipping and empowering us to complete His mission. We must expect difficulties, struggles, and interference from the enemy. We must expect the unexpected. Like Nehemiah, we are to pray throughout depending on the Lord. We are to submit to God, commit to His mission, and go, giving Him all the glory!
Part 1: It’s Time for Change
A new season has arrived. In order for the new to come to fullness, what is old and now “out of season” must go, even if it was good while it lasted. Sometimes our tendency is to cling to the old because it is comfortable, because we feel secure there. Sometimes we are reluctant to change because what we’ve been doing has been working. To embrace the new, we need to resist fear, doubt, and whatever it could be that would stop us. We need to trust God when He shows us it’s time to move on.
Nehemiah is a wonderful example of a man who knew it was time to make a change and did so. He trusted in God, leaving behind the old and venturing into the new with great faith. Let’s take a look at Nehemiah and his willingness to follow God.
Nehemiah was a Jew serving as cupbearer (a highly trusted position) to an ungodly Persian king, Artaxerxes. Nehemiah lived away from Israel, the home of his people, and when he heard the following news, it broke his heart and spurred him to action: “The survivors (Jews) who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” (Nehemiah 1: 3, NKJV) Nehemiah’s response to the bad news was to weep, mourn, fast, and pray for many days (1:4). Although the temple had been rebuilt, the protective wall around it needed to be rebuilt.
In his time with God, Nehemiah received God’s call to action, willing to do what God directed him to do to restore the wall in Jerusalem, and by so doing, restore the Jewish people.
Nehemiah could have refused to follow God because he thought the project was too big, fraught with difficulties, or he couldn’t see how it could be done…..he could have felt inadequate, untrained, or afraid to fail …. or he could have decided to stay in the palace and just pray because he didn’t want to go…… Nehemiah 1 does not document any doubts or fears that Nehemiah may have had to get rid of. What we know is that this godly man said “yes” to God’s call to mission, and asked God for mercy to approach Artaxerxes to get this project started (1:11).
As leaders in ministry, we are to stay in tune with the Holy Spirit and follow God’s plan in leading others. We are to follow God’s agenda, not our own. His agenda may require that we change direction dramatically. That’s what happened with Nehemiah. When he got the report, he prayed, and knew he was to go on a new mission for God.
How could he possibly take on such a huge project? He could not initially see the necessary steps or how it all would be completed. He had to have faith that God would give him everything he needed when he needed it — favor, protection, workers, and resources.
What is God’s agenda for you and those you lead in ministry in this new season? Will you take courage like Nehemiah did, and say “yes” to God’s mission? God always provides what we need when we follow His plan.
Lynda Moore, East Texas Area Vice-President of Ministry Development and Resources
The Naomi Mantle
At Aglow International’s Fiftieth Anniversary Global Conference the end of September, Chuck Pierce and Dutch Sheets draped Jane Hansen Hoyt, Aglow’s President and CEO, with a tallit. They prayed over her and declared that God was clothing her with a Naomi mantle. As these words were proclaimed, I found it interesting that this new mantle was designated as the mantle of Naomi (not the mantle of Ruth). In the past, Aglow has received specific spiritual callings/anointings in the capacity of Deborah, Esther, and even Mary, Mother of Jesus; these callings described the function of Aglow in particular seasons.
However, Naomi was strikingly different from the other women listed in that she was an older woman familiar with trials and sorrows, as opposed to a younger pioneering woman. Naomi was a pilgrim, a widow whose children were deceased as adults. As a foreigner living in Moab and bereft of all her immediate family other than her Moabite daughter-in-laws, she decided to return to her homeland Bethlehem (which means house of bread, signifying provision). One of her daughters-in-law bravely chose to abandon her own family of origin and cleave to Naomi and her God. Together, they made their way to Bethlehem, where they were met with some surprise by those who had known Naomi years ago, prior to her departure for Moab.
As the Book of Ruth relates, Naomi played a key role not only in Ruth’s being accepted in the community, but also in finding provision for both of them for the long term. When Ruth asked Naomi’s permission to glean in the field belonging to a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband, Naomi encouraged her; when Ruth found unprecedented favor with Boaz, the landowner, Naomi instructed her daughter-in-law regarding specific strategy for securing her God-appointed place in the community. We also know that Ruth, a Gentile, ultimately married Boaz and was thereby grafted into the line of Messiah. Although most women tend to identify with Ruth, who was commendable for her courage, devotion, and obedience, and was gloriously rewarded, the fact remains that Naomi played a pivotal role in Ruth’s finding her destiny.
Aglow International has experienced a glorious fifty years of vibrant and varied ministry. Established on a foundation of worship, prayer, and evangelism, this ministry has expanded to 170 nations. Aglow women and men have labored for reconciliation between male and female in the Body of Christ; they have invested years of prayer for Muslims to come to know Jesus Christ; they have blessed and supported Israel and the Jewish people in a multitude of ways; they have been involved in prison ministry, post-abortion counseling and healing, support groups, Bible studies, missions and ministry training courses. Aglow also partners with other ministries to combat modern-day slavery (aka human trafficking). NOW, however, after fifty years, Aglow has received a Naomi mantle. THAT means that we have a calling to develop relationships with younger leaders and partner with God to launch them into their harvest fields, to help equip them to find their places in His Kingdom work. It is time to give away what the Lord has spent fifty years pouring into us; it is time to empower others to do the work of the ministry. What a privilege that is, and what a holy trust! Praise God that He equips those He calls!
Where are the younger women and men in our circles of influence? Perhaps it is time to begin to invest in them in more substantive ways and encourage them to move forward into their respective callings. Thank You, Lord, for the Naomi mantle! We receive it for ourselves, both corporately and individually, for our lighthouses and for our families, in Jesus’ Name!
The Power of Synergy and Exponential Increase
Have you ever noticed that some families, companies, churches, and even cultural or national groups carry corporate qualities or virtues? I know families that are extremely gifted in hospitality, service, or demonstration of compassion. Others seem to carry a pioneering call. Certain churches are known for discipleship, whereas others are especially gifted in evangelism. My British friends have great respect for authority, and my Brazilian friends are enthusiastic and friendly. My Scandinavian friends, while wise and cautious, have proven supportive and faithful in relationship for decades.
Of course, these observations are admittedly broad-based and generalized, but they illustrate a basic principle: working together, we have more impact than the sum of our individual efforts; working together, we can also experience an exponential increase in God’s power through us to combat darkness in the earth. After all, He made us in His image, and the impact of His kindness and goodness in and through us can be magnified when we join together and seek His will for our families, churches, ministry groups, and even cities and nations.
Let’s begin asking the Holy Spirit to show us what special corporate anointing He has imparted to our families and churches; the nature of that anointing serves as a key to the types of outreach activities we should develop. Similarly, the nature of that anointing informs how we pray to see God’s Presence manifest in and through ministry teams we are involved in. Specifically, we can begin to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the nature of His anointing on our Aglow lighthouses before we begin to strategize how to reach our neighborhoods and communities with the Gospel. Might we then be more effective?
Christine Ege, East Texas Area President
A little over two years ago I wrote an article for our team word entitled “Are you a GameChanger?” Today, I am giving an accounting of my second and third time though this study by Graham Cooke.
The local lighthouse I attend is finishing up our second GameChanger study. All the exercises have been leading up to writing our personal identity statements. For all of us in the group, the writing of this statement has probably been the hardest exercise in the study. Whether or not I (we) have known some of these truths a long time, I have not owned them. And, then to say them out loud and read them to others…it can seem boastful. And should you, dear Reader of this team word, get the idea that I am boasting, — yes, like Paul, I am boasting in what my Jesus thinks of me! It really does not matter what you might think about me. It only matters what God and Heaven thinks!
This is a portion of my third statement of what heaven thinks of me from the Scripture and some of the prophetic words that have been spoken over and to me…
I am called. I am a daughter of the Most High God. He knows my name. I have destiny and purpose. He takes great delight in me. He has danced and rejoiced over me all my life, and He will continue to do so. He has grown me into a mighty warrior-woman. I have been called a general in the army of the LORD. I can war in the spiritual realms through intercessory prayer. I have been given free access to Heaven. He has called me a pillar in his Kingdom. It has nothing to do with my physical stature! Daddy-God has found me faithful and has given me sheep to tend, feed and care for. He has blessed the work of my hands. I can do all things through Christ; He has given me the strength to do all things…His joy is my strength. He has instilled in me grit, determination and endurance. He has increased my focus…depth in my seeing…to see between the lines and layers…the ability discern, to look again and see from a heavenly perspective, the revelations of mysteries, strategies and surprises. I have favor wherever I go. I have been called a “Star,” an “Esther.” I have no idea of the impact of my words. I speak before kings and people of great power and influence…He gives me the words to speak. I am an ice-breaker…going where few are willing to go and break new ground…bringing a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit.
My desire, dear Reader, is to encourage you to enquire about a GameChanger study. This course has changed my life, and it can and will change your life. It has been an awesome journey. Come join us. Become a GameChanger.
I am Linda Carpenter, and I continue to be an Aglow 21st Century GameChanger “…from Glory to Glory.”
Linda Carpenter, East Texas Area Vice-President of Special Events
Shhh = The Key to SHALOM
Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] John 14:27 (AMPC)
Humankind as we know it began with God creating one person, then a second. Together, those two people populated the earth in spite of their sinfulness. Similarly, Jesus, the second Adam, brought life.
Proverbs 30:28 (NKJV)
Everywhere you go during October, it is decorated for Halloween. You can’t escape it unless you stay in your house for the month and avoid television and computer. One popular decoration is spider webs with spiders patiently waiting for their prey.
Even when it is not Halloween, it is pretty easy to see spiders in most places. Even in Solomon’s palace, there were spiders. Solomon had a grand palace with many servants who kept everything cleaned and polished. But spiders can gain access to the tiniest places.
You can compare this to your own life and heart. You can keep yourself in the Word and prayer and be cleansed by the washing of the Word, but if you allow one little crack, a spider can come in. They start with a very small web, and if you don’t clean out that web, it grows larger and larger. Then it becomes difficult to remove. It’s sticky and clings and leaves a residue.
Psalms 139:23 (NKJV) says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties.” Ask God to shine a light on anything that is in your heart that does not belong and keep your heart clean and forgiven by God’s mercy and grace. Keep those cracks filled with God’s putty to keep those “spiders” out.
Mary Daniel, East Texas Area Vice-President of Financial Development
Several weeks ago, I was visiting with some Aglow friends, when I was told of an incident for which the prescription/cure intrigued me. My friend’s mother had had an episode of low blood pressure…the doctor had suggested that the daughter give her mother a tomato and salt. I happen to like homeopathic medicine, so that started me thinking about the spiritual aspects of this treatment.
Tomatoes are, generally, red…the blood of Jesus is red. Some tomatoes can be sweet or tart depending on the variety…sometimes the words of Jesus are sweet, just as His name, other times His words can be sharp, (a double-edged sword) Heb. 4:12. Tomatoes take many shapes, but most are roundish…we are to be well-rounded in our study of the Scriptures “…study to show yourself approved.” 2Tim 2:15. Tomatoes are a fruit filled with many seeds. Just think of the Fruit of the Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no Law.” Gal 5:22-23. God’s seed produces only good seed…a tomato seed will not produce potatoes — only other little tomatoes…seeds of love will only produces love… “love covers a multitude of sin” (1Peter 4:8), “a gentle word spoken will turn away wrath” (Prov 15:1).
And then there is salt…salt is necessary for life; even too much salt can destroy life. There are different types of salts that we use. The most common is table salt…sodium chloride used as a flavor enhancer and as a preservative. Years ago meat products were salted and cured to extend the life of those products… “meat,” the word of God! The Word of God preserves us during hard times as well as the good times. Salts are used as medicines…whenever we had a sore throat, the cure was to gargle with warm salty water; when we had sore and tired muscles the prescription was to soak in Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth (Mt 5:13)…we are to be salty…don’t believe me? The next time you cut your finger and put your finger in your mouth to stop the bleeding…taste your blood…next time you exercise hard and sweat…taste your sweat…is it salty? Don’t lose your saltiness, or you would be thrown out and trampled underfoot! (Mt 5:13)
Oh, yes, my friend’s mother recovered from her episode…In fact, the other day there was a photo of her with a big bowl of ice cream on face book! To God be the Glory!
Linda Carpenter, East Texas Area Vice-President of Special Events
So, “arise”, beautiful daughters of the King and “shine, for your light has come and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you” (see Isaiah 60:1) and “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16) because the Creator of all things, the King of Glory, the Sovereign Most High God has adopted us as His very own, commissioned us as His ambassadors, promised to supply all our needs AND will be with us always! Hallelujah!
Arlene Seekatz, East Texas Area Vice-President of Administration
The Power of Perspective
I recently devoured a captivating volume entitled One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voscamp. The author shares her story of learning the art of giving thanks, which proved to be the key to unlocking a treasure chest filled with joy, beauty, and wonder in the face of our ineffably powerful and tenderhearted Father. Learning to give thanks in the face of sorrows and challenges was not any easier for her than for the rest of us; after all, Ann, a farmer’s wife, is a homeschooling mother of six children and subject to the same less-than-perfect, interrupted days that most of us face. Beyond the immediate delight to the reader afforded by her exquisitely poetic and picturesque way with words, the author boldly addresses raw theological questions raised by serious faith-seekers throughout the centuries.
For her, the answers to her doubts and fears were revealed in the process of giving thanks in all things. She is not talking about some misplaced name-it-and-claim-it prosperity gospel that denies the realities and pains of life; rather, she shares her journey of discovering God’s presence in every detail of every situation, once she sought to see Him. As she so aptly quips in the text, “The remedy is in the retina.” How we see things is pivotal to how we think about them.
As a reader of this thought-provoking tome and a person who longs to see Jesus in the details of everyday life, both small and great, I am gripped by the significance of Ezekiel’s vision of the whirling wheels:
The scene is a vision of the presence and glory of the Lord in His temple; it is significant that the cherubim moved like wheels in response to the Holy Spirit and were “full of eyes all around.” How I need God’s eyes, His point of view, and His perspective on everything! Perhaps if I stopped in my tracks and ASKED Him what He desires to show me, I would see with His eyes! Indeed, the remedy to all my problems is to lay aside my own perspectives and opinions and give thanks for what the Holy Spirit allows me to glimpse of His beauty and glory in the day-to-day lurch of life!
Christine Ege, East Texas Area President
Are You a Dreamer?
The Bible has more than 100 references to dreams. Numbers 12:6 NKJV reads: “Then He said, “hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.” God gives dreams of warnings, prophesies, instructions, peace, revelation, you name it. God uses dreams to speak to you.
I’ve had people tell me that they don’t dream…ever. And I respond, really?! I dream every night, and if I take a nap during the day, I dream then too. There are the weird, crazy dreams that were probably brought on by something I ate. Then there are dreams that are forgotten within minutes of waking. But the dreams I want to talk to you about are the ones that God gives you that are filed away in your memory bank to draw from when needed. The Holy Spirit brings to my mind dreams that I had years ago and still remember vividly. And then I ponder on them.
I would like to share a portion of a dream that I had a very long time ago that is still fresh in my mind. During the time of this dream, my husband and I were struggling financially due to a lull in the construction industry.
In my dream, my husband and I were walking in a parking lot to our car. We came to this car that had a big sign on it that said “Mary Daniel won this car.” We both got into the car; my husband in the driver’s seat, and I was in the center of the back seat leaning forward between the front seats. In the passenger seat was stacks of money wrapped in bands. I picked one of them up and showed my husband. We were so excited. I then reached across the front passenger seat to open the door, and it was locked. You had to have a key to unlock and open it. I then had a large ring of keys in my hands, and I was going through them one by one until I came to a key that said Jesus on it. I used it and it opened the door.
I am not an interpreter of dreams, but to me the meaning of this one is pretty obvious. JESUS IS THE KEY! Not long before I had this dream, I had been driving and worrying about all our “stuff,” and the Lord had spoken to me Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. I believe the dream was a confirmation of what God had already spoken to me. Put God first. Seek His face. Go to Him with your concerns. He is the one who opens the doors you need to go through and closes the doors you don’t need to go through. He is the one who provides your every need, if you just seek Him first.
Through the years when times have become difficult, I just reach into my memory file box and remember when God gave me dreams of encouragement and instruction.
Acts 2:17 (NKJV) and Joel 2:28 (NKJV): And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
I am so grateful that God gives me dreams every night, even if I don’t remember most of them. But the ones that are important are still there, just a thought away waiting for me to draw on to be encouraged, to pray, and just know that God is right there with me…always.
Numbers 12:6 (NKJV) Then He said, “hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.
Job 33:15 (NKJV) In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds
Genesis 41:32 (NKJV) And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.
Deuteronomy 13:1 (NKJV) If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,…
Mary Daniel, East Texas Area Vice-President of Finance
Grace…what is grace? When I was growing up I knew grace as a short little prayer we pray before we eat our meal and sometimes after our meal. “Your Grace” is a title we bestow to a person of royalty. We are currently in that cycle of names where Grace is a common name for a woman or girl. Later I understood grace to be “the undeserved favor of God”.
However, grace is so much more than undeserved favor of God…I believe that grace is the essence of Jesus. Think of the synonyms…elegance, refinement, loveliness, polish, beauty, style, poise, charm, elegance, kindness, decency, favor, mercy, charity, leniency, blessings, prayer, thanksgiving, dignity, honor, distinguished are just a few. Are not all these words descriptive of Jesus?
I want to share a story that was part of our recent retreat—“Empowering Presence” where God’s grace was overwhelming and sufficient.
What if you woke up one morning unable to speak? You knew you could speak…you could think the words but no intelligible words were coming out of your mouth. You could walk as normal to the bathroom, go to the kitchen, start breakfast and get dressed, but no words.
This actually happened to a friend of mine several years ago, and not only did it happen once but twice! When this friend had gone to sleep the previous night everything was good, but when she awakened the next morning it was just as I described…no words. What I did not tell you was that her husband was at his work and that she still had to awaken their daughter and see her off to school! She was alone in her home with a sleeping daughter, and there were absolutely no words.
So, what does momma do? She does the usual. She goes into her daughter’s room, lays her hand on the daughter and begins to pray in the Holy Ghost…You see, this was commonplace. Every morning she was her daughter’s alarm clock…momma praying in the Holy Ghost. The daughter thought nothing of her mother praying in tongues. So, at breakfast Mom is still praising and giving God the glory because h
He was worthy. My friend kissed and waved good-bye to her daughter, then called her husband at work still unable to speak in her normal speech. They are now at the hospital…nothing is wrong. My friend is admitted for observation! Nothing is wrong…The doctors are astounded (except for maybe one or two who know my friend). My friend is experiencing the grace and the power of God to overcome every obstacle in her life and that of her family.
God’s amazing grace was so overwhelming, that when she awakened and could not speak, the kindness, the goodness the compassion of God that she had become familiar with met the enemy head-on; instead of fear operating in her daughter’s life…what is happening to my mother? …was met as she awakened to what was an everyday experience…her mother praying in the Holy Spirit.
If that had happened to you what would you have done? God had given my friend grace to overwhelm her enemy…he was not going to win her peace of mind that day or the next! God’s grace is sufficient to overtake any battle. Even Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12 that when he prayed for God to remove a thorn in his flesh, God answered and said that His grace was sufficient…His love, His peace, His great joy, His patience, His faithfulness, His goodness, His kindness, His gentleness and His self-control.
That sounds kind of like the fruit of the Holy Spirit operating though the manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against these things there is no law.” This means that nothing can stand against these fruits.
So, my friends, when in time of need, cry out to our God. He is sufficient in everything He says and does on behalf of His children. His grace can never be separated from his love for us.
Linda Carpenter, East Texas Area Vice-President of Special Events
In everything give thanks! — Really? In everything?
Have you ever found yourself murmuring, grumbling or complaining? Me, too! But then I’m reminded about the story in Exodus, how the children of Israel, after seeing God’s mighty deliverance, began to grumble. Exodus 15 begins with God’s people rejoicing, singing, dancing, praising! God had moved miraculously on their behalf to free them from bondage in Egypt. A few days later, in the wilderness, when they found water, they couldn’t drink it because it was bitter. Did they continue to rejoice, knowing their great and awesome God would provide? No, they grumbled. (Ouch! How often have I grumbled instead of rejoicing, trusting, asking, believing?) Well, Moses cried out to the LORD Who showed him what to do. Problem solved, water became sweet, and people could drink. Yea, God!
So, they learned their lesson, right? Wrong! Next thing you know, they were grumbling again. This time they were hungry. Their complaints were directed at Moses and Aaron, but really they were complaining against God! (See Exodus 16:8) Again, God provided miraculously, and the people saw His glory!
The story continues in Exodus 17 with the people thirsty again and grumbling once more. Amazingly, God provided yet again in a miraculous way! Is it possible that in their difficulty, God’s people really didn’t trust God’s goodness and His faithfulness? In our difficult times, do we really believe that God is faithful and will provide? If so, then rather than grumbling, complaining, murmuring, let’s give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. (See I Thessalonians 5:18)
The list of God’s gifts and blessings is endless! How good is our God who created the heavens and the earth! How many are His blessings to us, His children!
In everything give thanks? — Yes, for sure! Our amazing God is faithful!
Arlene Seekatz, East Texas Area Vice-President of Administration
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The Christmas season often brings us to a place of remembering things that used to be in our past. We cherish the memories of our childhood celebrations, the warm relationships with family, and even the traditions that seem to be set in stone.
Yet in the midst of the warm memories, we have an expectation of something new that is beginning to be seen on the distant horizon. The anticipation of the New Year begins to invade our thoughts — new opportunity to do things right and second chances to change things you want to improve upon. January is often advertised as the month to organize and put things in order. HGTV and DIY networks program more shows at the beginning of the New Year about flipping houses, restoring bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, etc. The focus is on getting rid of the old and replacing it with new.
Daniel Webster defines new as something that is recent in origin, something introduced to our knowledge not before known. One could conclude that knowledge has always existed but not necessarily revealed until an appointed time.
However, a great teacher once said, “Whatever has happened, will happen again; whatever has been done, will be done again. There is nothing new on earth. Does anything exist about which someone might say, ‘Look at this! Is this new?’” It happened ages ago; it existed before we did.
We make New Year’s resolutions based on the old while hoping and expecting the new to take its place. Most of the time our resolutions are great ideas that fall to the wayside, because we don’t have the ability to make things new. However, there is a person that is able to succeed in making all things new.
Revelation 21:5 (BasicBibleEnglish) And He who is seated on the high seat said, “See, I make all things new.” And He said, Put it in the book; for these words are certain and true.
Jesus Christ is the original Fixer-Upper, Bathroom-Crasher, all-time great restorer. His favorite thing to do is to restore everything that has become broken or weary and not capable of being used for its original purpose.
2Corinthians 5:17 (International Version) Therefore, if anyone is in the Messiah, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and—look!—all things have become new!
Colossians 3:10 (Passion Translation) For your new creation life is continually being renewed into the likeness of the One who created you; giving you the full revelation of God.
In the measure of time, Jesus Christ the Creator provides opportunity for you to renew your heart by a change of affections — to change the heart and affections from natural enmity to the love of God and to implant holy affections in the heart. I encourage you to begin your New Year with the resolution that you will allow Jesus Christ to take out the old heart and place in the new.
Happy New Year 2016. We write all the changes in the book; for these words are certain and true.
Judy Parks, Former East Texas Area Aglow President
Finally, after a lengthy wait, another person came out to get me. She was a nurse and was going to give me all the information I needed to prepare for surgery. However, when we went to her office, I tried to make conversation, but she wanted no part of it. I made several attempts to talk and be friendly, but to no avail, so I fell silent and looked around her office. I was so surprised to see on her wall two plaques with Scriptures. She had been so unfriendly, I would have never believed she was a Christian.
As I left, I could not get that out of my mind. I was thinking of the non-Christians that come into her office and see the scriptures hanging on the wall. I began to wonder what they think of her.
This encounter made me realize that we are the only Jesus or Bible that a lot of people see. It is really important that we remember to let our light shine and show that Jesus is the only way. If we wear our crosses around our neck or display Christian things, we need to act like Christians and demonstrate the kindness and character of Jesus. Having a kind word for someone or even just smile can make such a difference to someone.
Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Let it shine for all to see.
Mary Daniel, East Texas Area Vice-President of Finance
It’s fall… almost…soon there will be a chill in the air, and the leaves will begin to turn colors and then fall. It will be time for sweaters, boots, scarves, football games, warm cocoa and one of my person favorites…fresh apples and popcorn! I can taste it now!
Sometimes we think it’s a time to slow down… “hunker down” for the winter and just wait until spring…another word might be rest. Instead, I believe this is a time that we need to continue to be courageous and bold in our spiritual authority. Don’t let the smoke of the campfires lull us to a sense of false security. Your enemy…my enemy is crouching at our doors and waiting for us to let our guard down so that he can “waltz in” and take over…Will you allow this to happen on your watch?
In Biblical times, spring was the time that the kings went to war. It may be fall in the northern hemisphere, but let me tell you it is spring in the southern hemisphere! And we must continue to pray and intercede for our friends and families here in this nation as well as around the world.
“Draw an arrow from your quiver. Aim high. Release the arrow. Draw another arrow. Aim high. Take careful aim. Release your arrow…PAGA! You will hit your mark. Your quiver is full of arrows. You have an unending supply!” (Word spoken at the South Central Regional meeting, July 2015)
Let us enjoy the preparations for the winter (summer) months, but let us not shirk our responsibilities as watchmen on the walls of our homes, our nation(s) and Israel. Our quivers are full of arrows. Each time we reach for a new arrow, one is provided. Every time we take careful aim with our prayers — praying as God would have us pray, we will hit our mark! Keep on praying, don’t lose heart…the battle is not ours but the Lord’s. He will give us the victory!
Linda Carpenter, East Texas Area Vice-President of Events
GETTING ON TRACK AND STAYING THERE
What do we do when life takes an unexpected turn? Where do we look when our situation doesn’t make sense? How do we cope with disappointment, pain & heartache?
Recently a friend compared our lives in Christ to riding a train. It’s God’s train and He has laid the tracks to our final destination along the path of His choosing. After embarking on this journey by receiving Christ into our lives, why do we sometimes question the route along which the train is travelling? How lovely instead, to enjoy relationship with our loving Father as we travel along, even when the train takes a totally unexpected route!
Years ago I read a story about a young girl travelling with her father. She could have been terrified at the crowds of people all around, fearful of getting lost, anxious, troubled, worried. Instead, she was completely at peace, enraptured with the privilege of taking a trip with her dad. She was content to know her daddy was with her, that he knew what he was doing and he would take care of her and all the details. Rather than fret about things she didn’t understand, she enjoyed the trip immensely, taking in all the new sights and sounds, secure in the presence of her loving father. The details didn’t have to make sense to her. She trusted the one she knew was watching over her.
Words of Scripture join together to form a beautiful song of encouragement for challenging times: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. I will never fail you, never forsake you, even to the end of the age. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5 & Isaiah 41:10)
So in every situation let’s lean in close, trust the heart of our Father and enjoy the journey!
Arlene Seekatz, East Texas Area Vice-President of Administration
There is often a debate about wearing protective clothing while participating in bicycle riding, skateboarding, cross country biking, motorcycle riding, or any other sport that has potential for injury while participating. Some people say that wearing the clothing impairs their freedom to move and is too costly. Others argue that no matter what the cost, wearing the clothing insures no long-lasting injury and provides freedom to enjoy the activity. It is all a matter of choice for the individual participating in the activity.
Similarly, God has provided, free of charge, a protective covering for all prayer. Using God’s word in prayer is like weaving a protective blanket and forming total protective covering over you while engaging in the activity of prayer. Some people choose to pray using their own words that they decide should apply to the situation, whereas others use the written word to pray God’s perspective over the situation because of the protection it guarantees both to the one praying and to the subject of the prayer.
God’s Word is more powerful than any other word spoken by man or by other false gods. His Word brings victory because of the blood sacrifice and the truth proclaimed in prayer. His Word stands firm in the heavens and is fastened to eternity. It has been established before time and will endure past time. God’s word is productive. When applied through prayer, it becomes alive and manifests the tangible answer to the situation. God brings success through His spoken Word. Using God’s word to form your prayers guarantees answered prayer. He tells us in Isaiah 55:11: “In the same way, my words leave my mouth, and they don’t come back without results. My words make the things happen that I want to happen. They succeed in doing what I send them to do.”
Choosing the perfect name brand for our adventure in prayer assures us the victory we desire. Hebrews 1:3 (PT) declares: “The Son is the dazzling radiance of God’s splendor, the exact expression of God’s true nature—his mirror image! He holds the universe together and expands it by the might power of His spoken word.” We pray in the Name of Jesus, and it is His written Word that provides protection to cover us and insure our safety as we move on to the finish line.
Be encouraged. Available to you is all the protective equipment you need and the most effective name brand for your adventure in prayer – the Name of Jesus! It is a matter of choice.
Judy Parks, East Texas Area President
Every driver has seen the words written at the bottom of his or her side view mirror the words “objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” It’s put there to warn the driver against changing lanes prematurely, which might cause an accident.
God uses the natural things of the world to reveal the spiritual.
You can be going through a difficult time and think that you are all alone in your problems, but you must remember that Jesus, too, is closer than He appears. He is always right beside you. God knows what you are going through, but He allows you to walk through challenging circumstances for a reason. Looking back at the difficulties I have walked through, I realize that Jesus was with me every step of the way. I learned many lessons through them, and I cherish the fact that He never left me or forsook me. My faith grew exponentially during this time, and, as a result, I have confidence to pray for others and know that He hears my prayers.
When you glance at that mirror while you are driving, let it be a reminder that Jesus is closer than He appears. Don’t change that lane without seeking the Lord; let Him guide you to switch lanes when it is His timing to avoid those avoidable accidents.
When you are looking for Jesus in your situation, remember that He is closer than you think.
Mary Daniel, Vice-President of Finance