Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The “Knowing God” Series

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The "Knowing God" Series: Pt.1
 
This series will show and teach you how to know God in a loving and intimate relationship. Not one that is vicariously experienced through another or by what you have only heard. Many have been in the place where they thought they knew God, but all they really had was religion and not Relationship. Many have never come to a place of Relating to God! Job although rich, famous, and well loved and liked thought he too knew God, but it was only until the full-force of trouble, calamity, and trials/storms hit his life that he had to step back and realize that he did not in fact KNOW God! He had only heard of Him.
Job 42:5-6 (NLT)
5 I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own (spiritual) eyes. 6 I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance."
 
To Know God is not to hear of Him (religion), but to see (through spiritual eyes) in an Encounter in your own life (relationship). Many have settled for religion because that is easy, but you know God desires relationship (commitment) from you, this is hard. You don't have to commit to religion, but you can't have relationship without commitment!
So how do we as mere mortals (finite beings) begin to know a Ubiquitous, all-powerful, knowing, seeing infinite God? We start where he started with the invitation to relationship with Him!
John 3:16 (NLT)
 "For God so loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."
God has already made the first step in knowing you, in wanting you, and in desiring to have fellowship (an intimate relationship) with you. He LOVES You! If you don't know or remember anything else, just know He loves you! Then God gave and sacrificed His one & only Son in order to have a relationship with you!
So, in Step 1 & 2 of Knowing God, you didn't have to make a move, take a step, or prove anything. God has done the hard part. He has loved you despite your sins, and He has given His Son as a ransom and sacrifice to know you and be intimate with you. When the scripture says, that God so loved (this means He loved you beyond comprehension)… You and I cannot and we will not ever be able to measure the breath, depth, or sacrifice of God's love for us…
 
Romans 5:8
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
 
God allowed His Son to die to be close, near, and intimate with you! What will you let die in order to be near, close, and intimate with God? Will you let that sin, that addiction, that relationship, that habit, or that ___________________ (you fill-in-the-blank) die in order to have a relationship with God. Only religion allows you to sin and say it is ok, but relationship will always hold you accountable no matter what.
Did you know that you were created to have a loving relationship with God? God not only wants you, but He created you to be with Him! This is our purpose for existence! To know God should be one of your greatest missions in life!
We discover how to know God through His Word & through Worship, and we help others know God through our Witness! The Word, Our Worship & Our Witness are the beginning steps to knowing God!
The word Know is defined as to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty, to have established or fixed in the mind or memory, to be cognizant or aware of something. To know means to be acquainted with (a thing, place, person, etc.), as by sight, experience, or report, to understand from experience or attainment, and to have a familiarity or grasp of, as through study or experience.
God has to be known beyond your sensory feelings, but you must commit to being acquainted with Him! It is in knowing Him that you will trust Him! Knowing God will not always be a honeymoon or euphoric experience. Many times like Job, you will really know the many faces, sides, and names of God through the vicissitudes of life.
 
Philippians 3:10
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death
 
If you ever think you have come to the end of God and that you know all there is to know, then you will be surprised to find that you have not even learned a tenth of Who God is. In all honesty, it is impossible in our sinful and mortal beings to know God fully as we will know Him in our eternal resting place in our glorified heavenly bodies (if we have made Jesus our eternal hope and Savior). That is why John 3:16 states, "that if we believe in Him then we will not perish, but have everlasting life. It takes eternal and everlasting life to know God fully. He is time in and out of time, He was there when there was no beginning (before there ever was anything to be) and He will be there in the end!
God is so Grand that He is Unsearchable! So happy hunting in learning, knowing, growing, and encountering God forever!
 
Psalm 145:3
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.
 
Romans 11:33
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
 
What does it mean to SEE & Know God? To see something through spiritual eyes and spiritual perspective is to know that without question that it is fact. We may not see God in a physical sense, but we do see God in a spiritual sense. We do however See God's hand in our everyday lives, and in the lives of those around us, especially during the time of hardships and miracles alike. However, we only know God by seeking His face (the essence and character of who God really is). Unless you know what God means to you, then you will not make it a priority to know God intimately!
 
Make it a conscious point during this season of Lent as we march to the commemorative remembrance of the Cross, to know God not only by hearing, but to see Him for yourself. Furthermore, live accordingly to John 3:16, being loved by God, being given the gift of His only Son, then believing in Jesus, and then finally receiving eternal life (an everlasting intimate relationship) with God!
 
 

Monday, February 20, 2012

AUTHENTIC Sisterhood by: Gail Boles

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Author: Gail Boles
 
AUTHENTIC Sisterhood
 
"What does the word Sisterhood mean?" Sisterhood is defined as the state of being a sister or sisters; an association of women united in a common interest, work, creed, etc; a belief in or feeling of unity and cooperation among women (Webster's New World College Dictionary).
There is such a clarion call in my spirit for woman to come together in the body of Christ as real sisters. In church, we often refer to each other as "sister", but how can we create authentic sisterly bonds when we engage in envious and competitive behavior?
I want to first submit (2) questions to you. What is it that causes women to be so quick to be critical, envious, and distrustful of one another? Why are some women accustomed to feeling as if they have to compete, undermine and disrespect other women?
I believe part of the answer has to do with a sinful sense of competition among sisters that keeps them from fulfilling their obligation to love one another. As women, we can overcome the hateful things we do to each other and connect without crossing boundaries.
I believe a woman who is secure in her identity in Christ doesn't spend time judging, gossiping, complaining and competing for position and status, or belittling other women. I am convinced that so many issues women have with each other all stem from self-hatred, shame, and insecurity. When we act this way it says we don't love ourselves; therefore, we can't love our sister in Christ. It breaks my heart to see this exist very strongly in the church.
Julie Hawker said something so powerful, she said she truly believed that we will never reach a level of sincere and pure sisterhood if we do not admit that we are bleeding, and stop the bleeding in order to heal our wounds. The power is within each of us to bind up and heal one another's wounds. We must honestly and consistently ask ourselves, "In which way am I using my power? Is it to hurt or to heal others?
Many women that I mentor have expressed to me their distaste for other women. Many are feeling very conflicted about this, and are giving up on female friendship. I can relate to this struggle because there was a season in my life (before Christ), that I enjoyed the company of men, but I hated being in the company of women. These feelings are pretty common. It's an interesting thing how those we share genetic commonality with are often those we can't stand.
The book "Fight like a Girl", by Lisa Bevere, gives some great insight into the why behind our dislike of each other. If you struggle with this, I strongly encourage you to get a copy in your hands.
I believe one reason we don't enjoy each other's company is that sometimes we assume things about one another before we even give each other a chance to prove them wrong. So many of us have been hurt by other women that we go into almost every situation thinking that the woman we are around will betray us, reject us or hurt us in some way. Our guard is automatically up.
Another reason I believe we don't enjoy each other's company is that we often see things in other women that deep down we don't like about ourselves. There are so many commonalities with all of us that we tolerate within ourselves, but detest when we see other women doing them. All women struggle in some way with gossip, whether or not we will admit it. We accept it from ourselves and do it, almost unconsciously at times. However, when we hear another woman gossip, we judge them for it. We can also be very insecure people, and it's difficult for us not to compare ourselves with other women.
It amazes me how we can befriend people on face-book and have these superficial friendships with people that we have never seen, but cannot embrace those that are right in front of us. Mentor someone that is younger than yourself on how to fulfill their purpose and destiny, or connect with someone that is older than you so they can impart a greater level of wisdom. Sadly however instead of mentoring, we would rather spend hours on face-book writing on each other's walls having conversations with someone we don't know or have never met. But, the very sister that you see from Sunday to Sunday you avoid so that you won't have to speak to her, God will not have it so.
I believe the heartbeat of God is to have the walls of conspiracy, prejudice, and suspicion that have been built up between sisters in Christ destroyed. I believe it is His desire that when we as women see each other instead of sizing one another up, we would look upon each other and respond, "my beloved sister." God himself calls us beloved. His desire, His very heartbeat is to see His daughters be united in Him
What we must understand if we are truly born into the Kingdom of God and have His Holy Spirit in us we will have this seed of "sisterhood" inside us.
 
Psalm 133:1-3
How good and pleasant it is when brothers (sisters) live together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garment; as the dew of Harmon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountain of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
 
Also, Roman 15: 5-6 says: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart beat and mouth you man glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.    
We see in Ephesians 4:2-4, God loves for His daughters to have unity. Unity means being one. However, we were created to come together in unity under one God, one King with one Holy Spirit.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18 says: But we all, with an open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the sane image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
As daughters of the Most High and joint heirs with Christ, we have been made the daughters of God, and as Paul stated to the Romans 8:17, "Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory"  
 I want to encourage you to speak into the spirit of a sister to bless her. Touch her in a loving sisterly way. Look at her in the eyes. Who knows, she might have been looked over or ignored all week. You might be the first person to actually see her.
Can you do this today? You will be glad you did! Always remember to put kingdom first, then people, and then things.
Matthew 5:16 says: "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven"
Sisterhood Unity in spite of our differences can be a picture of the Body of Christ portrayed through us, so that the world may see unity and see Christ in it. If we are believers, we have His light within us and it is our calling to shine that light. We have been put here to both experience Christ and His love and to portray it to the world.