This has been a crazy week! A good, busy and productive week. God has planned many things to happen over the next several weeks. Tonight is one of the first events for Out Of The Box Worship Center. We are meeting for a time of fellowship and sharing God’s vision with the community. From 6 pm until 7:30 pm there will be finger foods, music and fellowship. Please join us!
Tomorrow is Shoebox Blessing Sunday. We will have a big parade with the children pulling wagon loads of FULL Shoeboxes to go around the world sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with other children. This is such a fun and joyous time for our church family to come together and celebrate what God has done and will continue doing through this ministry. Every year I am completely knocked out of my shoes at the awesomeness of God! I look forward to this time of celebration every year.
After the Shoebox Blessing and worship there will be a dinner held in the fellowship hall. This dinner is a time to celebrate and fellowship together. Our cluster churches will be joining us with their families as well as their Shoeboxes! This is the first year we have done the Shoebox Ministry as a cluster! It is exciting to see what God can do when HIS people come together! I know that Oakland FUMC had never done the Shoeboxes until this year. Thier goal was 30 boxes- they doubled that amount on the first Sunday! Folks-that is exciting! So, the dinner is accomplishing two things…the first is that we are breaking bread together in God’s House-to celebrate the Shoebox Ministry as well as to eat lunch before heading to Joy Ranch to pack more boxes!
Secondly it is also a fundraiser for our NICARAGUA MISSION TEAM. They have spent many hours of prayer and much energy raising all the funds to go on this trip. They have come together as God’s Team and I am blown away by the dedication of these people who feel called to be on this trip in July 2011. I have watched God take one, then two, three, four, until He has formed a team of committed young adults to be on mission together in the country of Nicaragua. People don’t do that on their own- that’s GOD. The team is halfway to the goal of raising $12,000. I think that is phenomenal for this group of young people and adults. Some of the teenagers, who are still in school, and are going on this trip have gone out and gotten jobs so they can raise money on their own. They have all made many sacrifices of all sizes to see this trip come to life. They are doing it. I am so proud of all of them for stepping up and saying ” yes” to God. They are putting feet on their prayers.
As a church family we are doing a lot of work in our community and around the world. This work is just part of what our church is doing. I haven’t even mentioned the many other ministries going on. These are just the ones I am involved in. All are important and God needs many workers to accomplish these things. I see our church family growing by leaps and bounds and there are always new faces in Sunday worship. The amount of new people coming to join us in fellowship is amazing to me. This is all God’s plan. He is bringing people to our church for a reason. Divine intentions are never evident to us but we are told to TRUST in GOD as He brings them about. We don’t have all the answers- but we know He does!
As these Divine Intentions play out I, for one, have felt the awful darkness of spiritual warfare going on around us. The bible says it is something that we cannot see yet we must fight it. We MUST put on the armor of God and take a stand, together, to ward off spiritual warfare.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
If you don’t think you are being affected by it- you are wrong. You may not realize what it is, but it is there. Satan is busy with his evil minions trying to pit brother against brother and sister against sister. Do you think Satan wants to see all of this work being done? NO HE DOESN’T!!!!!!! The more work we do as a church family, the harder he works to get his toe into the tiniest little crack. That toehold can turn into a stronghold if we aren’t careful. We MUST recognize the devil’s schemes. He creates chaos and confusion, disharmony, untrust and bitterness. Then who gets to carry all of that around on their shoulders? Satan? NO! We do. It is heavy and it hurts. I am reminded of my Bethel concept this week . It is a picture of a man burdened with the weight of disharmony. It’s awful. He is wading in the murky waters of wickedness with this load of ugliness on his back. He is tired and dirty. Satan is even trying to get into the Bethel class. I feel it every day when I sit down to study. He tempts me with other things because he knows that I am eager to learn. I desire God’s Word to LIVE inside of me.. The more we desire God the harder Satan works to get us to stumble. We MUST not fall for these tricks. I am so grateful and thankful for the leadership of our Bethel teachers and Pastor Ty. I have been able to put God’s Word at work in my life, my husband’s life and my children’s. In learning the concepts and seeing the pictures, such as this one, I have experienced a tiny speck of what God must feel at our disharmony with HIM. It is ugly, it stinks and it is dirty. When you are convicted by reading God’s Holy Word it is hard to NOT think about it.
The scripture in Ephesians 6 says “WHEN” the day of evil comes….not “if.” It also says WHEN we put on God’s armor WE WILL BE ABLE to stand our ground. Not “if.” There are no “if’s” with God. WHEN we act- this or that WILL happen depending on HOW we react. So, HOW are we REACTING to the devil’s schemes? Believe me, he is at work in places we haven’t even thought about yet. He never rests and this is why we should never, ever, ever rest from praying for one another.
We are to PRAY on ALL occasions with ALL kinds of prayers. We are to BE ALERT and ALWAYS keep praying for ALL the Lord’s people. There are people that we find it hard to pray for but we MUST always PRAY for ALL people. It’s not about US-it’s about following God’s directions. When we put on God’s armor we WILL be able to stand our ground. God’s armor is ALL inclusive. Not part of it, but ALL of it. Belt of Truth, Breastplate of Righteousness, Feet of Readiness, Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit. He has readied us for battle. Let us battle against the devil’s schemes, not against each other. Shame on us if we do. WE are on GOD’S side. He is our LEADER. Our COMMANDER. We are to extinguish every flaming arrow that comes at us with the shield of faith. Do you have your shield covering you? I pray that we all do. I drop mine every now and then and sometimes it takes another person to remind me to pick it back up and fight. Thank you friend. I remember the first time I heard you teach from Ephesians 6. This post is a piece of your fruit. I am praying for all my readers today-to hear God’s Word. Not mine.
In this video clip, from the movie 300, ( and let me warn you: it is graphic and hard to watch, but it has spoken to me about what our shield of faith can do when we use it properly) you will see an army of men, forming a unit, together, to extinguish the arrows of the enemy. As you watch- visualize it this way- We are the men with the shields, the Christians. The arrows are coming from the evil one. Watch what happens. THIS is what are to do. TOGETHER. IN UNITY. As ONE with God as our Leader.
I am praying that we are ALL taking up our shields of faith to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one-together.