Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Encouragement From The Vineyard

One day when I was discouraged about ministry opportunities that are not opening around here Holy Spirit told me to go pray upstairs.

When I got upstairs He told me to check out Matthew chapter 20, the parable of the the Workers in the Vineyard

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard." (Matthew 20:1-3)

I understand this part. This is the route that many students take. They go to school to become pastors so they can work in the vineyard right away. That's what I wanted to do but the Lord said no. He wanted me to work for a season. I didn't think it would be for 23 years! Let's continue with the parable.

"About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' (Matthew 20: 3-6)

This is where my heart cringes. It might look like these men are "doing nothing" but I beg to differ. These poor guys have been waiting patiently in the market, enduring the judgmental, perhaps scornful looks of people passing by. They have their work gear on and they are acting enthusiastic, trying to get the Vineyard owner's attention so they will get picked next. I imagine by five p.m. their hopes are flagging. No one likes to be the last person picked on a team. Remember the anxiety you faced as a child trying not to be the last one picked? That happened to me far too many times. The rejection these men have endured is humiliating and they deserve credit for waiting this long. Most people in a casual work pool won't wait past 8:30 a.m. never mind enduring the heat and the looks till five p.m.

"'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.'" (Matt 20: 7)

This is what I am waiting for. I have been diligent. I have been hoping and waiting and getting ready as Holy Spirit has led. I have three libraries full of books, teaching tapes and cds that Holy Spirit told me to study and testimonies that would fill a couple of books. Am I in the vineyard full time? No, not yet. I keep trying the doors, but none are opening, yet. I am wearing the right clothes and I am asking Holy Spirit to put the right perfume on me so I smell good to the Vineyard Owner. For sure, I am not taking the opportunities to get offended and quit.

"When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'" (Matthew 20: 8-12)

I see resentment from the earlier workers because they felt cheated. I wonder what is harder, to work all day with your job and your diploma and the respect of the people... or to wait, working a regular job with the hard work of keeping a dream alive over so many years? I think both are hard positions, but if you are where you are supposed to be, you will hear Holy Spirit say, "Well done," every day. I know that is what I am living for. Let's finish the parable.

"But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' (Matthew 20:13-16)

So here's the kicker, we all get the same wages. In fact it seems totally unfair to the college grad that started in ministry right away. What was the point? I totally agree. If God isn't calling you to be a pastor or leader you don't want it. It's a heartbreaking job. Almost like being a parent multiplied a hundred times over.

This is where motives really tell. If they were doing it because Holy Spirit told them to, then they will hear His "Well done."

For those of us still waiting to be told, "Go work," this is really encouraging. He knows how long we have been waiting and He has not forgotten us!

I know I am called to do evangelistic crusades and God will open the door at the right time. In the mean time does anyone want to go street preaching, prophesying, and healing with me? I need prayer back up and a witness, in case something bad happens. LOL!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Teaching Sunday School Today, etc.

I had fourteen precious children today in my Grade 4 & 5 class. They didn’t do their homework and didn’t have their agendas so I improvised.

I felt to teach them about how to have miracles in their lives. Miracles are a fruit of intimacy with the Lord Jesus. So we looked up Psalm 100:4 where it says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving in your hearts, enter His courts with praise. We will say, this is the day that the Lord has made, and we will rejoice and be glad.” (my paraphrase) To apply this scripture, we praise the Lord till Holy Spirit leads us to worship, then we worship till His manifest presence shows up and then we stand and receive all He has for us. 2Cor.2:16-18 says we are transformed from glory to glory as we behold Him or stand in His presence. Hallelujah!

We, His sheep hear His voice (John 10:27) and the voice of a stranger we will not listen to (John 10:6) So we cry out to the Lord, “Talk to me Lord! You promised that we would hear Your voice and we are hungry for You. Thank You Lord for speaking to us now.” Then we pause and listen. Then we check with Holy Spirit, “Is this what You are saying, Holy Spirit?” and we ask clarifying questions.

The kids were listening and I was so blessed.

I then taught them the number one reason why people don’t receive in church. Are you curious? Jesus nailed it when He said, “that a prophet is with honor except in His home town.” (Mark 6:1-8) Familiarity is the number one reason people don’t receive. We look at people through our physical eyes, with all their imperfections and don’t honor Holy Spirit, who is working through them. We can’t receive from people we don’t honor. Holy Spirit doesn’t work that way. I believe that’s why the Apostle Paul said that, “from here on in we judge no man after the flesh.” (Rom 14:13)

Then we did a word search on Proverbs chapter five and those who wanted to, read verses from the chapter out loud.

We then blessed ourselves using my book, “Bless Your Children Every Day,” by Ruth Swope. Many of the children had never heard of this so I explained Matt 12:35-37 where we have the choice to speak words of life or death and how they affect us. I could see revelation in some of the children’s eyes.

Our classroom was so crowded that we took a break and played dodge ball in the gym. I put one of the young men in charge and when the kids started fighting about the rules we decided to go back to the classroom. He was upset about how it went and I told him that’s how teachers feel some days. They have all these great plans but they can’t do them because one or two won’t follow the rules. That "hit" him because normally he’s the one causing the disruption. (Go God!)

So we had about 5 minutes left till the end of the service, so I asked the kids if they knew how to bless people. They didn’t so I gave them a couple of pointers. First make sure your heart is “love, wanting the very best” for the person. Then throw away all your preconceived ideas about the person and ask Holy Spirit for what HE wants to share with them, to encourage them. Then I demonstrated how to do it. I was able to break curses over one young man by doing it generally, for the whole class. Then I spoke blessing over all the children. I got told to tell one child that he was a mighty man of God and that he should look in the bathroom mirror every day and say,”Thank You Jesus that I am a mighty man. “ Another young girl had a teaching gift with the anointing of compassion that I called out for her to recognize and receive. In all about five children were specifically blessed. Hallelujah!

It was an awesome time. The service was extended and the parents were receiving in the sanctuary. The children were getting restless so I let them make paper airplanes and I told them that they wanted their parents to receive from God, because the more they received, the more they would become better parents. (more light bulbs going off in their heads. I love it.)

The young boy that I broke the curses off did such a one eighty, in behavior and attitude that it made my cry at God's goodness. He immediately took an interest in the lesson and stood close to me the rest of the service so that I could bless him again and again. Thank You Lord for keeping him free! To God be all the Glory!

It was a great morning. I met someone after the service that had a sore throat so Tricia (my daughter) and I prayed for him and rebuked that cold and loosed healing. We claimed, “Supernatural lubrication on his throat and vocal chords so he can preach and teach 24/7.” Amen.

Then at the grocery store I met a lady from work that had a pinched nerve in her neck. I asked her if I could pray for her and she said okay. So I told her that by the stripes of Jesus she was healed and I asked her to agree with me for the Lord to heal her. (Isa 53:3-5) Hallelujah, I know God’s working in her life. I told her to say “Thank You,” and that I would pray and God would heal her.”

Holy Spirit was happy so I wasn't worried about my preaching. We get better with practice.

Yay God! Now that’s living. He always answers the prayer, "Here I am Lord. Please use me today." And it’s only 3:30 p.m. There is lots of time to do stuff with the family and find time to go worship and praise Him. I love being His favorite mug! (2Tim 2:20-21)

Bless You, in Jesus' Name!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bishop Vladimir Gnica

Bishop Vladimir Gnica
By Brenda Thompson
July 25, 2000

I was reading a book titled, "Holy Fire; From Holy Laughter to Holy Fire" by Michael Brown and a little passage about a certain man has really impacted my life.

Bishop Vladimir Gnica was a believer who was imprisioned in the Solviet Union because of his faith. He was made to walk his cell constantly and only given a mat seven hours a day to rest or sleep. If he quit walking he was beaten or hosed down with cold water. This went on for twenty years. After twenty years he was sent to a labour camp in Siberia where he lived another three years before going home to be with the Lord.

He is noted for saying these words...

"Lord, take my heart and never give it back to me. Why was I born if not to love you passionately?"

I am not there yet. I am like everybody else who tends to compare themselves with others instead of comparing themselves with Jesus and the saints of old. In the days of the apostles the Greek word for witness meant martyr. In those days I've read that the leadership considered themselves wheat to be sown. They knew their deaths would produce 30, 60 and a hundred fold harvest. They knew leadership meant laying down their lives for the brethren. I can't help wondering if I am doing all I can to carry the torch for the next generation.

Lord help me to pick up my cross daily and follow You where ever You lead. I too want to be found faithful in all things. I want to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I appreciate all You've done in my life, Lord, but please don't stop. In Jesus's name I ask these things, Amen. (Matthew 10:38, 1 Corinthians 4:2, Philippians 3:8, Romans 8:29)

Haying This Summer (written Aug, 2000)

The weather this summer has been horrible for the farmers in our area because of the incessant rain. This also happens to be the first summer we are harvesting our own hay. It could have been a recipe for disaster but I've been crying out to the Lord for mercy and guidance because I know so very little about what to do to get good quality hay for our horses.

Thankfully God always gives grace to the humble and He's been making up for our mistakes, which have been huge and hilarious in hind sight.

After we had harvested half of our first cut of hay our neighbor, Dick, who also happens to be a prominent dairy farmer in the area came over. He couldn't believe that we had baled dry hay. He kept commenting on that so I asked him, "Would you like to inspect our hay?" He said, "Sure," so he, my daughter and I went up into the loft to inspect the hay.

He inspected a number of bales of hay and said, "I can't believe you've got dry hay." He was checking for moisture which leads to mould and worthless hay. He asked me, "How did you do it?" and I said, "I prayed. I asked God to have mercy on my husband and I, 'city slickers', and to help us not ruin the crop." What a testimony God gave us!

Just this week we were trying to harvest our second crop of hay which is mostly alfalfa and the weather had turned against us. (In hindsight I realize that I believed the weather man more than I believed God because I hadn't even prayed that morning.)

I called the farm around the corner and got a hold of Case, Dick's father and asked if they could use the hay for silage since it didn't look like we would be able to bale it before it went mouldy. He said "No, we aren't set up for it right now." So I said, "Well, I had better start praying." He commented, "You should be happy with a barn full of good hay in such a bad summer." He was right of course but we were believing that we would be blessed abundantly so we could give an additional offering to one of our ministries.

We said our goodbyes and I prayed and asked the Lord to intervene with the weather so we could be a blessing to others again.

I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to go rake the hay around lunch time but it was still really overcast and the weather forecast was for thundershowers in the afternoon. A few minutes later I felt the prompting from the Holy Spirit again so I obeyed and went and raked the hay in fourth and fifth gear. By two o'clock when I was finished raking the hay the weather had completely changed and it was partly sunny with nice white clouds. I called my husband to come home to help and I started baling (square bales) with my 13 year old daughter.

Around five o'clock Case came by and talked to me on the field and said, "Look what happened when you prayed! I remember what you said at lunch, that you said you were going to start praying. The next time I need help with the weather I'm going to pray and come see you for help to pray too, okay?" I said, "Sure." He said "We are cutting hay because we are running out of time." I said, "But it's supposed to thundershower for the next three days."

He remarked, "Is it?" and he had a big smile on his face. I understood that he was hoping I would pray for him (which I did). Guess what? We didn't get any thunder showers. They all went by us in response to our prayers. Isn't God good? We were able to put 500 bales of excellent quality alfalfa hay in our barn which will sell for $1,000.00 to $1,500.00 depending on market conditions. Case and Dick's hay didn't get ruined either, Praise the Lord.

I'm so thrilled that I finally realized that my ministry is wherever I am right now. The Lord Jesus sure gave us a witness this summer! I'm praying that the Lord will encourage them and bring them into a stronger relationship with himself.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I Missed a Breakthrough

I was in Rochester, New York on the weekend. We had a great time getting some great teaching and making connections. After the course finished we went for a drive and ended up at Wendy's for a bite to eat, before heading back home.

Right outside the door was a homeless man, sitting on the ground with his back leaning against the garbage can. I walked by him into the Wendy's praying about what to do. It was bothering me that he was out there. At that point, I was fighting fear, so I ordered my salad and kept praying.

I waited for my friends to get to the table and asked my friend if I could borrow ten American dollars because I was out of American money. "No problem," she said and we proceeded to eat our lunch. As it turned out, she forgot to give me the ten dollars and I forgot to ask her again for it.

We talked a bit after lunch, then left. I didn't see the man on the way out. I didn't think about it till we had left the parking lot and I remembered that I had forgotten to get him a meal. My friend was driving away so I prayed out loud, "Lord send someone else."

I missed a great opportunity. You see, that was a love test and I chose to be comfortable rather than to risk upsetting my friends or embarrassing myself. I used to be really good at talking to homeless people. In Winnipeg, where I grew up, they used to come talk to me all the time. Sometimes they just wanted to talk. Sometimes they pan handled and I would ask Holy Spirit what to do. He always protected me.

You know Holy Spirit always rewards those who will love the least of them. He is always searching for His lost sheep. (Matthew 18:11-13) Sad eh? This man could have been an angel for all I know. It has happened before. The Bible says, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." (Hebrews 13:2)

I could make excuses for myself, but I know the truth. All I had to do was treat him like a human being and ask him if he was hungry. It's not rocket science. Then I could ask him what he would like and order it while he goes to wash up. For me washing is important and if he gives me trouble about it, I would joke with him saying, "Don't you want to look your best eating lunch with a pretty lady like me?"

That's how easy it is. $7.00 can keep a homeless man going for another day. The Bible says, "He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given." (Proverbs 19:17) If you are bold you can tell him about Jesus and His power that can set him free from addictions and save him from hell. If that is overwhelming, then give him a tract and let him eat by himself. He'll be glad for a good meal.

Here I have been asking the Lord for the spark I need to get this revival bonfire going in the valley and this man was the situation I needed. You see I have learned from experience that outrageous love leads to outrageous breakthroughs.

So you can understand why I am asking the Lord for another chance. If you dare, you can pray this with me; Lord have mercy on me, and help me get back to where I used to be -- totally, outrageously in love with You. I'm too comfortable these days, too apathetic. I want to be Your hands and feet in this dying world, really I do. So help me Lord to be more like You. Amen.

Bless you as you go love on purpose, in His name!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Great Teaching This Weekend

Hi there... I've been away for a few days. I got so much to share, I'm not sure where to start. In the mean time there are chores pressing in on me so please bear with me. I'm going to make a pot of chili and worship as I do it and think about what I want to share.

God's been so good!

Bless you. Let's keep learning how to worship as we work. Lord help us be aware of Your vineyard. Amen.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Favorite Verse... Hebrews 12:1

Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

This is one of my favorite verses. I can get lost in thinking about the great cloud of witnesses. Are they angels, or people, or both? How many are around me today, Lord? Does the number change from day to day? What are they saying right now? What would they tell me, if they could?

Then I move on to the second part of the verse. What have I got to throw off today, Holy Spirit? Some days, it's hurtful words from the past, that the enemy is trying to use to keep me from moving forward. Sometimes habitual sin, that I am struggling with is the problem. Other times it's the "accuser", coming at me through circumstances, or someone who doesn't have their mouth under Holy Spirit's control. My choices are very important and I cannot get involved in offense or unforgiveness and call myself a good soldier. (2Titus 2:4)

The next part of that verse leads me to ask, "What sin is entangling me today? Unforgiveness, offense, bitterness, or habitual sin are the usual culprits. Bad eating habits have been highlighted to me, to work on by the Lord... not people. There's a big difference when Holy Spirit says, "Sweetheart, it's time to change this." I can take His correction much better than peoples comments. I am determined to get to the point where Holy Spirit is 100% in control of my food intake. I will not quit! I have come so far, baby step by baby step. Gluttony will not master me, because I want to prosper and the bible says that a "drunkard and glutton tend to poverty." (Proverbs 23:21) Sobering eh? If I want to prosper, I can't keep making excuses to overeat. Holy Spirit is not fooled for one second.

The final part of that verse is something I have been working on for a while. Perseverance is available to me as I ask for it. I have asked Holy Spirit to help me run my race with great perseverance. He is so amazing. I have also asked Him for joy along the way, because the dream He gave me to pray about, is a long term project... LOL. The verse that the Lord gave me to tie in with this part, was Isaiah 42:4, "I will not falter or be discouraged until Your justice is established in the whole world." So you see, I can't quit. I have decreed this verse over myself so many times, it's a part of me. Hallelujah!

As I run my race, I want to remember that there is supernatural power in the Word of God, power to bring "itself" to pass in my life so I can live the "divine life" here and now. (2Peter 1:3-4) The Word of God is supernatural seed and I love getting nuggets from the Word and applying them to my life. (Isaiah 55:11) To God be all the glory. Great things He has done!

What God has done for me, He can do for you.

Excuse me, I have got to keep running...

Friday, March 6, 2009

What Grieves My Heart... Part 2

This post is a follow up to the previous post.

I spoke to this lady yesterday after prayer group. I was probably too gentle, but I love this lady and so many times when we are upset we will say things that we don't really mean. Then someone figures they have grounds to "warn" someone else... and so it continues. I asked her to be careful what she says because some people will react in fear and will start looking for dirt to substantiate the "warning." I also mentioned how I felt that Holy Spirit would warn people if there was a problem and she didn't need to interfere. All in all it went very well. She's still talking to me and I was able to talk to her gently, which is a miracle for me. (Thanks for your prayers!)

The whole time I prepared to speak to her I was keeping in mind the scripture verse, "You therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." (Romans 2:1) I wanted to be very careful that my words didn't come across as judgment, because then I'm part of the problem. I was really hoping she would see my words as exhortation to act more like Jesus and to trust Holy Spirit to warn people, if it was necessary.

I do not want the devil to win, so I have been blessing them both, on purpose and praying that Holy Spirit will help all of us to grow to be more like Jesus. The scripture verse that came to me was, "Let no sin have dominion over us Lord, because we love Your word." (See Psalm 119:133)

I was thinking how much this is like the Veggie Tale called "The Rumor Weed." Life is weird and wonderful at times!
Bless you!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What Grieves My Heart

It was a great prayer meeting. We praised and worshiped until we felt Holy Spirit's manifest presence then we stood in quiet silence while He touched our hearts. I love times like that. He knows how to heal the wounds of the day. We felt to pray for a lady that was going through a rough time and God gave me a word for her. Then the retired leader gave a word in tongues. I wasn't paying attention because He was talking to me and then somebody nudged me, "Interpret."

"Lord, what do I say?" I quickly asked... and I gave the interpretation. Holy Spirit confirmed the word, giving the lady a breakthrough and there were many tears and hugs. Hallelujah! To God be all the Glory.

As I was leaving a lady came up to me and said she felt to tell me something. I said okay and she waited till the people had left my side and started talking. She said she felt to warn me about a sister that I should not associate with, because she had an "inner trauma" that had not been dealt with and her gift might be used by the enemy. I
told her I would pray about it and left.

I departed and started praying immediately, because I felt offense trying to get in. "Maybe that's why my friend did that," I was thinking... after all, the lady that had warned me was a supposed "mature Christian." After a few hours of prayer I knew, but I knew, that my friend was just fine and this lady was being used by the devil to slander, gossip and hurt the body of Christ. Jealousy and pride had caused her to overstep her authority.

I told my Pastor what had happened and he told me to go confront this person. I'm praying about how to do this.

I know it's easier to be cautious about "warnings" like that, but I beg you to press into the Lord for His heart, before you go along with someone "who warns you about another Christian." I mean think about it... who's greater? If we are afraid to associate with someone because they might not be perfect yet, we will be alone forever. The last time I checked, we were all in the process of being sanctified.(Heb 10:14) If we believe that the devil is greater than God, Holy Spirit inside of us, shame on us! If His power can't keep us and protect us from ALL evil, then we need to renew our minds.(Rom 12:2-3)

We are entering an era where the acts of the apostles are going to be done again. We do not want to shut it down, in our midst by listening to the "warnings" of other people. Let's go test the fruit of that person's life, first.

P.S. I did a google image search on "slander" and it came up with many images of a person whispering in another person's ear and it also came up with a hangman's noose. If the world can figure out that slander is "death by words"... why can't the church?