I just finished reading, and teaching, in our adult Sunday school, at Atwater Community Church, from a book by Assembly of God Pastor Michael H. Clarensau, author of
A Spirit – Empowered Life:
Discover The World-Changing Journey God Has Designed For You
(with foreword by Scott Wilson), Copyright 2015, Published by Vital Resources)
He says, “The goal of worship is to give ourselves fully to God and His purposes. It’s called wholehearted LOVE. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, & strength means prizing nothing but that relationship and yielding all else to His greater wisdom. It’s a level of sacrifice we can’t explain. It’s “Wholehearted Love.”
Loving with our whole heart, because that’s how God loves us!
It’s stepping up every day, fearlessly risking rejection to speak up and act on behalf of the One God, Savior, and Spirit that we love. Taking a stand in whatever situation we find ourselves. Because God loves us so deeply. For the Spirit-Empowered, love comes from our heart. Whether we’re singing a song, ministering, or serving, we praise God from our life because God lives with us every day. In worship, everything comes together for the Spirit-Empowered. We love God by loving others. Serving them provides a way to serve our God. It develops, reshapes, and changes our old selfish heart into one that displays the Heart of Christ.
Love is the Heart of Christ
Obedience marks our heart. When God’s ways don’t comfortably mesh with our ways, when He asks us difficult things, & He does, and we must surrender all. That’s wholehearted love at work. That same love is demonstrated in sacrificial service by giving of our time, efforts, and resources beyond the point of comfort to bring comfort to others as Jesus would. Unconcerned with comparing ourselves with what God asks others to do; we go the extra mile without reservation. We know God gives His love to us and will continue to provide everything we need. He can be trusted. Always.
That love also runs through open doors, without dwelling on our inadequacy, because we know that the God who has equipped us before will equip us again, and will keep equipping us as we say, ‘Yes!’ And as we keep going and running through the open doors, we trust God completely. Active faith means, we, ‘Go!’ and move forward. It’s more than our own determination, or our own discipline. It’s the Holy Spirit of God that helps us worship the Father and Son as we must, because without His help, we can’t do it on our own.
Worship is intimate relationship with God. Love for God motivates true disciples, because this is what we can offer God. Our LOVE, and that love expressed more and more in a wholehearted way, opens the way for God to pour His power through us.”
Let’s listen to some of the lyrics to “Giants Fall” by Francesca Battistelli
“Everyone’s telling you to let go of what you’re holding to…
It’s too late, too far You’re too small, it’s too hard
Throwing water on that spark living deep inside your heart
With oceans of reasons The things you’re not seeing
But oh, maybe they don’t Know what you know That you’re not alone
So, don’t you be afraid Of giants in your way With God you know that anything’s possible
So step into the fight He’s right there by your side
The stones inside your hand might be small But watch the giants fall
We could really live like this Can’t you imagine it
So bold, so brave With childlike faith
Miracles could happen Mountains would start moving
So whatever you may face
Ask & believe You’re gonna see The Hand of God in every little thing
Miracles can happen Anything is possible Watch the giants fall.”
The Hand of God. Powerful.
It may not be Christmastime right now, but I want to talk to you today about how even in small beginnings you can give birth in a stable, because LOVE gives birth even in a stable, to a new beginning.
“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means, least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of My people Israel.”
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”
Young or old, new baby Christian, or long-time foot-stomping Pentecostal saint, God wants to work miracles in our lives. Here’s a great promise from our God.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself RESTORE you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”
I Peter 5:10
So, let’s just sop a moment and let that sink in. Let’s change “you” to “ME & I” and read it again.
“And the God of all grace, who called ME to His eternal glory in Christ, after I have suffered a little while, will Himself RESTORE ME and make ME strong, firm, and steadfast.”
I Peter 5:10
Oh, yes, that’s powerful. Let’s remember, that part of the glorious Christmas Story involves living in a stable. So, how do we go from “Living in a Stable” to “Sitting in the Heavenly Throne Room with Christ?” How do we get from the hardship of the stable to the glory of the throne? We trust and wait.
What do we do when there’s no room in the Inn? We give birth in a stable. Love gives birth right there in the stable, because our wholehearted love for Christ will sacrifice what needs to be sacrificed.
Here’s my definition of what a “Stable experience” is like: A “Stable experience” is a place we find ourselves physically, emotionally, or spiritually, where we don’t want to be. Do you have any of those experiences in your life? I do. I’m not talking about “stable” as in “steadfast,” like “this table is so stable, I could stand on it.” No, I mean you’re in a dark, smelly, chaotic place in your life, because there’s nowhere else for you to go.
Mary & Joseph wanted to be back in their home in Nazareth in Galilee, or at least in the Inn in Bethlehem, especially when Mary was ready to give birth, but, they found themselves in the smelly stable.
Many times in life, we find ourselves in a “Stable experience or situation,” especially when giving birth to something from God. Really? Yes, especially when giving birth to something from God.
And, often a gradual process of circumstances got us there. I know my All-Powerful God could have delivered Jesus, Mary, amd Joseph out of the stable, kept them in Nazareth in Galilee, and not sent them to Bethlehem in Judea. But there was a purpose and a promise that Jesus had to fulfill. Yes, God always has a purpose and a promise.
We just read that promise in Scripture, “To Restore us and make us strong, firm, and steadfast.” So, in our stable experiences, let’s ask ourselves, “Is there a purpose and a promise from God for us and our family that needs to be fulfilled by God, because we’re in this “Stable experience” right now?” Let’s stop right now and ask ourselves, “Are we like Jesus, headed for the throne room? Yes, we are when we know Christ.
How did baby Jesus get from the stable to the throne? Through suffering and trials until He went back to the Father. This is true for us, too. Life includes suffering and trials, because it’s not true when people of the world say, “God never gives us more than we can handle.”
People say that all the time, but that’s not Scriptural. They’re misquoting 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
God gives us plenty we can’t handle “on our own,” but, with Him, there will always be a totally different outcome. God’s given us “Life.” More “Life” than we can handle without Him. We all have many examples in our lives of more “Life” than we can handle on our own.
Let’s name some: A spouse, a family, babies, toddlers, teens, school, jobs, ministries, our health, etc. In the 2nd book I’m in the process of writing, called, Let God Build It, there’s a chapter called “Life…And More Abundantly,” and a chapter called, “There’s Always Something.” That’s “Life.” That’s the Life God gave us, but He didn’t plan for us to do it alone. It’s important that we get this. God wants us to trust Him, lean on Him, and not on our own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5 tells us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Even in our “Stable experiences.” Especially in our “Stable experiences.”
James 4:8 tells us, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”
Yes, we all want that promise, for God to come near to us. We also want that promise for our friends, our families, and for those we’re ministering to. The Bible tells us to come near to God and He will come near to us. But, it’s important to know that we can’t lean on our own understanding and still come near to God.
We must trust in the Lord with all our heart. With our whole-hearted love and not lean on our own understanding, thinking we can, or should, do everything on our own. It’s important to remember, also, that He helps us handle what He gives us with His power and strength, until we return to our Father in Heaven.
If it’s health issues, let’s remember, “By His stripes we are healed…” If you have a splinter in your finger and you get it out, you don’t need to pick at it and pick at it, like there’s still a splinter in it. Believe it’s a done deal. Let it heal. Same with our healing. Jesus closed that deal for us. Don’t keep picking at the wound. You are healed. Believe, accept, receive.
So, let’s obey and bless our Father through our trials, through our sufferings, through our “Stable experiences,” and with our entire lives.
Let’s take a moment to look more closely at our Savior’s actual “Stable experiences.” How long did Jesus, Mary, and Joseph stay in the stable? One day? Two days? They stayed awhile. What were the conditions? Stables are smelly. Loud with animal sounds. Uncomfortable. Lacking the simplest comforts. Lacking any family support, and it’s a lifestyle that is at the mercy of strangers.
Let’s think back for a moment. Have we ever found ourselves in a “Stable experience?” Somewhere in life we never meant to be. Stop and think a moment and recall the situation. Was there stress? Yes, lots. How did we handle it? Kicking and screaming? Blaming everyone else? Dumping our problems on others? Giving up on God?
Help us be truthful, Lord. Because this is important. Mary glorified God, even after submitting to a pregnancy she could never explain, with months of village criticism, and all God’s requirements for bearing the Son of God.
Let’s remember that our belief and our obedience are what magnifies God. From my Fruit Of The Spirit Bible, I read: “It is always the heaviness of the burden that teaches us the best song.” Amen.
I want to sing the best song for the Lord.
Mary was faithful, which I define as: “Always doing what God tells us to do exactly how and when He tells us to do it.” Amen. Is this always easy? Not a bit. But, let’s sing the new song God gave us.
In this season I’m going through right now, of deadlines and back and forth e-mails with my editor, publisher, graphic designer, illustrator, typesetter, and printer in order to “birth” the 3 books the Holy Spirit told me to write, I complained.
Yes, I have been known to complain, or to vent, as I like to call it, because it sounds much less horrible. As I complained, the Holy Spirit recently said something so profound to me:
“The aggravation is NOT the mission!”
In other words, the difficult experience of being in the “Stable Experience of hardships, frustrations, sufferings, and trials, is not the mission. It’s not the purpose.
Let’s listen to some of the lyrics for “Move (Keep Walking)” by tobymac
Another heartbreak day Feels like you’re miles away
Too many passin’ dreams It’s hard to keep believin’ When they pass you by and by
I know your heart been broke again I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left Well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet so
Move, keep walkin,’ soldier keep movin’ on, until the mornin’ comes, it ain’t over yet
You’re feelin’ like you can’t buy a break, I can hold your hand, but I can’t turn your eyes to freedom
Hold on, the Lord ain’t finished yet Hold on, He’ll get you through this
These are the promises I never will forget
Let’s read the devotional for July 14th on Pg. 205 in:
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
(Copyright 2004, Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.)
“Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you. Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to My heart. I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but, that is not My way for you. Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain. The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak. Someday you will dance lightfooted on the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy. All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction. Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend. Stay on the path I have selected for you. It is truly the path of life.”
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
Psalm 16:11 NKJV
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
The path may be difficult, but keep walking.
I’m sure there was aggravation in that smelly stable in Bethlehem for Mary & Joseph, also.
We must focus on the mission. God’s mission. NOT our mission. God’s mission for us, which is His mission, or, we can take a detour and focus on the aggravation and lose sight of the mission completely.
The world thinks the aggravation is not worth it at all. So they quit, or they never start, and they never do anything for the Lord. Listen to the Holy Spirit and keep going. He will give you peace in the storm. Keep focused on God’s Plan for you and He will give you power through the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
I have had many moments like this in my life, maybe you have, too. Also, from my Fruit Of The Spirit Bible, I read: “Patience never argues with God, and it has a habit of praising God while it waits for miracles to take place.”
I’m waiting for miracles to take place in my life, perhaps, you are, too. Who has time to argue with God? Let’s pray to find out what God wants us to do and do it. Let’s find His mission and make His mission our mission.
There’s never any reason to hurry God. This always amazes me, that Mary prayed, “May it be to me as God has said.” Then she sang as she waited. Praise God, can we do the same?
What was it like in that stable? Was it a 5 Star hotel? Were they given a seven-course banquet while there? Why do we think that our lives are going to be any easier than Mary’s, the Mother of Jesus? Who was there with them in the stable? For sure, no friends or family to support them, but God knew where they were and He blessed Mary and Joseph with birth. With the birth of their son, Jesus, The Savior of the World.
God blessed them with birth in a stable, right there in that smelly stable, and He will bless us, too. Then, when God blessed them, worship and support came to the stable from everywhere. Even shepherds need a Savior.
God knows where we are, too, even if we’re in a “Stable experience,” right now, He will bless us with birth, too. Perhaps, with the birth of a healed body, the birth of a godly relationship, the birth of a child, the birth of a needed job, the birth of a home of our own, the birth of a long-held dream, the birth of a vision, the birth of a promise, and the birth of a purpose.
What was the result of Mary and Joseph’s stable experience? Christmas! Jesus’ birth in a stable, brought joy, brought faith, brought hope, brought vision, and brought a promise for us. It got the attention of angels, Kings, Magi, and shepherds
When we find ourselves in our own “Stable experience” of course, we can’t discount the enemy at work, but let’s not give him any glory, either. We know that satan is a liar.
It’s not easy being a spouse, a parent, a worker, a care-giver, a teacher, a student, a business owner, a leader, a pastor, or whatever…(fill-in-the-blank), but, we shouldn’t be asking, “Why are we here in this stable, Lord?” We need to ask, “What are You trying to birth in us, Lord right here in this stable?” We must be confident that God plans to take us from the stable to the throne, from Christmas to Easter, from Birth to Resurrection.
We must have birth before we can experience resurrection just as God did for His Son, Jesus. But, we’ve got to let Him birth something in us, and when we get to that “Stable experience,” are we going to give birth, or are we going to bail out?
Hope came down to us when Jesus came to earth. We’re now children of the Most High God and He constantly reminds us of His Love. God wants to show us that His purpose is to bring us out of the stable, through trials and suffering to His throne. Let’s always want everything He wants for us.
We need to be faithful. God’s favor and guidance is with us always even in the “Stable experiences” of small beginnings to get us to the glorious throne in eternity worshiping our Lord forever. Even if we’re in a “Stable experience” right now, no matter who we are, we must accept the gift of Jesus, because even in the stable, God’s right there with us and knows where we are. His Son was born there. Once we’re out of our “Stable experience,” let’s not look back. Let’s shut down immediately any voice from the enemy. Let’s not even let satan speak at all. Let’s not argue with him. Let’s just look up to where God’s throne is and talk to Jesus.
Sometimes, to be obedient to the Voice of God for our miracle to happen, we may need to go through a “Stable experience,” like Mary and Joseph. We may need to carry our “Cross,” like Jesus did, before we get to the glory of Heaven. When we receive a vision or a promise from God, we need to hold onto it and be patient. Stay strong in the Lord. Our vision from God is not meant to be a one-man show. God is talking to other people at the same time giving them a hunger to serve Him in many different ways to fulfill His Plan.
He brings all our gifts and talents together in perfect harmony to complete His vision. When it’s His vision, it’s a beautiful thing, completely orchestrated by Him. It’s no longer just your vision from Him, it’s His vision for all of us. A vision for His Kingdom work.
Now, it can LIVE. Dry bones come forth and it moves as He gives it breath, and as He puts His life into it. The dry bones will have flesh and come together and walk, as He puts into motion something that was dead, and something lifeless, becomes ALIVE. He creates something from nothing. So, let Jesus live in you. He’s the focus of our lives.
He changes chaos into focus. He changes foolish people into wise people. Remember both foolish and wise build, they both face the same storms, but the foolish build on sand and perish. While the wise build on Jesus the ROCK and stand.
Stop foolishly trying to do it all by yourself and start trusting in the God who knows all.
So, I challenge you to: Dream your vision. Obey His command. Ask for guidance. Listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit. Give it all back to Him. Then, Praise Him, because He dwells in the Praises of His people. Listen, Obey, Praise.
Let God’s vision for you fly where it will. Let God take it to the heights where you couldn’t take it on your own. As it rises, trust God. Let it soar and watch what God can do with it, with you, and with the team God has placed around you for His glory.
He’s given people to you to work with. Help them catch God’s vision, too. Encourage them. Pray for them and let them soar, along with the vision of God. By handing it all back to God, He’ll entrust it back to you. Be His servant. He’ll be your God. Be His hands and feet in this world.
Then, you are no longer a one-man show. You’re reaching out with the power of the God of the Universe leading you and cheering you on. Then, you can rest in His Plans.
Recently, I’ve also read these powerful words by T.D. Jakes in his book, which I highly recommend, called…
Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive
(Copyright 2014, by TDJ Enterprises, LLP)
“God has moved on, and you can’t plan your future if you’re hanging around the tomb.”
Jesus is NOT in the stable any longer. He is not in the tomb. He’s on the throne. We need to be focused there. Pray about moving into different dimensions where you’ll grow. Learn new things and be challenged again. It’s time to move to the next level.
“Your ceiling on this level becomes your floor on the next level.”
A new beginning can be a little sprout of something God is birthing in your heart, a thought, a prayer, a vision, a passion, or a compassion for others that God has placed in you. It’s a hope that grows inside you. Pray. Water that little bud. If it has been planted in good soil, it will grow and spread into a full-grown ministry for God. Listen to the direction from the Holy Spirit. He will help you sow that seed properly. Protect it and nurture that little sprout until it advances and grows into a beautiful flower to show others God’s love.
Turn that seed you’ve sown into something edible, delicious, and nourishing to feed someone what they need to hear from your testimony about the Word of God. Ask the Holy Spirit questions, listen for His answers, and keep listening. I challenge you today.
Let’s pray. “Gracious Heavenly Father, please don’t allow us to get stuck in hard seasons, in trials, or in difficult ‘Stable experiences.’ Help us to focus on the Heart of Christ and on all our promises from You. Help us to obey the voice of Your Holy Spirit in everything we do. We know that whatever we need today is found in Jesus. Thank you. Amen.”