Tuesday, January 31, 2006

#31 The Hem of His Garment

#31 The Hem of His Garment
January 31, 2006
"And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped." (Luke 8:43-44)
"When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, 'If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.' " ( Mark 5:27-28)

Right in the middle of the account of the healing of Jairus' daughter, we find an incredible story of healing and faith. We meet a woman with an issue of blood. The exact nature of her ailment is not defined but it is believed that she suffered from a "feminine" disorder that had caused her to bleed for twelve years. Her condition defied the skills of physicians. It seemed pretty hopeless. Mark tells us that she spent all of her money and still grew worse. Because of this condition, the woman was permanently, ritually unclean (Leviticus 15:25-27). She would have been cut off from going to the temple and having any contact with people because of her "uncleanness". She could have no social life, she was never invited to parties and she could not even enjoy a comforting hug from her friends.

She heard about Jesus. She snuck into the crowd. The Amplified Bible says that she "kept saying", probably to herself..."If I only touch His garments, I will be restored to health." She had such faith that she didn't even need Jesus' attention. She just needed a touch. What she was about to do was unforgivable. Touching Jesus would make Him ritually unclean along with all of the other people around her that she would touch while trying to get to Him. But desperation took over and overrode everything else. She just needed to touch His garments. Just the tassel on His garment (see Numbers 15:38).

Our lady had many obstacles to overcome in getting close to the Master. Besides her uncleanness, the crowd was massive. Luke 8:19 tells us that even Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Having this condition for twelve years, losing blood for that long a period of time, had no doubt left her in poor physical condition. Did she have the strength to push through the huge crowd, being jostled here and there, to get to Him? And on top of it all, she wanted to remain unseen and unnoticed! She continued on in spite of it all. "If I only touch His garments, I will be restored to health. I will be healed if I only touch the hem of His garment", she repeats over and over again. Faith gives her the ability to fight the obstacles and win.

And win she did! There He was, right in front of her. She sneaks up from behind, touches the edge of His cloak and is immediately healed...the bleeding stopped! It was just like she thought...she didn't even need to touch HIM...just the hem of the garment that He wore! But to her horror, instead of being able to sneak away she hears Him say, "Who touched me?" The Bible tells us that Jesus felt "virtue" go out of Him. The Greek word is "dunamis" and means "force" or "power". And He asks, "Who touched me?" Jesus could discern between the casual accidental bodily contacts He was making and the outreach of faith that came from that woman's touch. Just as secret acts of sin are known to God...so are secret acts of faith. She couldn't sneak away. The Healer himself was calling her out.

Frightened and trembling, she comes out of hiding and falls at His feet. I imagine Jesus lifting her chin tenderly so that He could see her face. Dare she, an unclean sinner, a woman no less, face her Healer? She does and she tells Him what happened; why she touched Him and how she was instantly healed. And He says, "Daughter [she wasn't just any woman...she was special to Him], your faith has healed you. Go in peace." The words "go in peace" were a recognized way of giving assurance. She was not only healed today but she was to remain free and continue in health. She was saved. She could come out of the darkness and shame that had her bound for twelve years and live again! Jesus had accomplished what no amount of medical knowledge or money ever could. With just one touch of the hem of His garment. And not only is this exchange between the two of them, the crowd, and now we, 2000 years later, hear "your faith has healed you." We see faith put on public display. Jesus was not willing to let this opportunity to teach the importance of faith slip away. He wanted everyone to know the power of faith, the awesomeness of faith, the importance of faith. We later read that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

I believe that this woman and her story are a picture of you and I. We were dead in sin and unclean before God. Isaiah 64:6 tells us, "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy (menstrual) rags." But then we touched the hem of His garment. We grabbed on to the tassel. And we were saved. Instantly. Completely. Eternally. Jesus accomplished for us what no intelligence, money, influence or personal achievement ever could. Complete forgiveness of sins and right standing with God.

Our lady had an issue of blood. What is your "issue"? How long have you carried it? Twelve years? Less? More? Our lady was desperate. How desperate are you to touch Jesus? Will you defy convention? Go against the press of the crowd to get to Him? Our lady had great obstacles. What obstacles or limitations do you have that could cause you to not press forward to get to Him? Is He your first or last resort? Are you seeking His power in your situation or looking everywhere else first? Are you content to sneak up from behind, quietly, unnoticed? Or are you bold enough to declare your faith in Jesus before the massive crowd? I ask you to prayerfully ponder these questions this week and know that your healing awaits. It waits despite the crowd, despite the limits, despite the hopelessness. It waits in the awesome power that you will find in just the hem of His garment.

"..if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20)

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

#30 Prayer + Power = Success

#30 Prayer + Power = Success
January 24, 2006
"As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning." (Exodus 17:11)

Amalek was a tribe of fierce nomads. According to Deuteronomy 25:18, they had attacked Israel from the rear, making a cowardly assault on the weary Israelites. They were later judged by God for this. This act of Moses holding up his hands is almost unanimously considered by commentators to be an act of prayer. This was an act of dependence on God that determined the outcome of the battle. It was also a public display of that dependence to all who witnessed it. "The battle which Israel fought with this foe possessed a typical significance in relation to all the future history of Israel. It [Israel] could not conquer by the sword alone, but could only gain the victory by the power of God, coming down from on high and obtained through prayer." (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the OT) And what a defeat it was! The Bible says that Joshua "overcame" the Amalekite army with the sword. This means literally that he mowed them down, prostrated them, disabled them. Prayer plus the power of God equaled success.

What is the battle that you are facing today? What "-ites" are attacking you from the rear? The sickness-ites? The wayward child-ites? The poverty-ites and their cousins the lack-ites? The divorce-ites? Maybe your own -ites of guilt, shame, fear or condemnation? Whatever the -ite, your prayer must meet God's power for you to win the battle and have tremendous victory.

We all know that the devil is a liar (John 8:44), but he is also a coward. Just as the Amalekites attacked from behind, so does Satan. He sneaks up on us to attack and take us by surprise. You know those words, "I never saw it coming"? That's how he operates. He prowls around like a roaring lion waiting to see who he can devour (1 Peter 5:8) and then he pounces. We get the bad report, the spouse says "it's over", the phone call comes from your child in jail, a job is lost. We certainly can't avoid these things happening. Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble (see John 16:33) but we can still win the battles. And prayer is our part of the equation. Remember prayer + power = success. Don't ever say, "there's nothing I can do." There certainly is...pray!

You can never be sure that God isn't right around the corner with the victory. I can't say for sure, but I would think that Abraham was praying pretty fiercely as he was walking up the mountain to sacrifice Isaac in prompt obedience to the Lord's word. Little did he know that at the very same time, a ram was being put in place on the other side of the mountain to be the sacrifice, instead of Isaac. When they reached the top of the mountain, Abraham's prayer, faith and obedience met God's power, mercy and love and Isaac was spared. "There in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns." (Genesis 22:13) You see, you never know what's happening on the other side of the mountain that you can't see.

Isaac "went out to the field one evening to meditate." (Read Genesis 24: 62-67) The Hebrew word for meditate, "suah", is usually translated "walk about," "pray," "wail," "lament," or "moan." He needed comforting after his mother Sarah's death. Little did he know that comfort was coming on a camel. Rebekah was on her way. All of a sudden, "he looked up and saw camels approaching." Rebekah would provide the comfort he needed. Comfort in the Hebrew means strength and staying power. The Bible tells us that she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death. (Genesis 24: 67) You see, you never know when your camels are coming.

Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Pray in the good times. Pray in the bad times. Make prayer like breathing. Pray all day long. David said that he prayed in the watches of the night. Replace worry with prayer. Be persistent in prayer (see Luke 18: 1-8). Let God's power meet your prayer and give you victory and success. Let your natural meet God's super and watch supernatural things begin to happen. That's the power that is in prayer. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16 KJV) You never know if there's a ram just around the corner or some camels right down the road.

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

#29 Modern Day Moses

#29 Modern Day Moses
January 17, 2006
"And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." (Exodus 3: 9-10)

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. While doing my daily Bible reading, beginning the book of Exodus, I began to draw a parallel between Moses and Dr. King. I thought that surely I'm not the only one who ever entertained this idea, so I went on a search. Sure enough, I wasn't the only one."Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the Moses of the 20th century", said Charles E. Mock of the National Baptist Convention. At a Martin Luther King Jr. annual awards dinner, Charlton Heston said, "A great many people think of me as Moses parting the Red Sea but if the 20th century ever had a real Moses who led his people to the promised land that man, of course, would be Dr. King." (2004 Jewish Post of New York) These are only two examples among many that I found.

Dr. King himself must have felt this kinship with Moses as well. At a rally in Memphis, he said, "I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up the mountain. And I've looked over. And I have seen the promised land. And I may not get there with you, but I want you to know, tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land!" Compare this to Deuteronomy 34: 1-4. "Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land - from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it." Both men saw the promised land .... both men never got there.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., graduated from Morehouse College (B.A., 1948), Crozer Theological Seminary (B.D., 1951), and Boston University (Ph.D., 1955). The son of the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, King was ordained in 1947 and became (1954) minister of a Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama. He may have had expectations of leading a middle class, quiet lifestyle, but God had a different plan. He grew up mostly protected from segregation but he had a different calling on his life. Not that he didn't know what was right and wrong. His father was an example to him. His dad refused to patronize a shoe store that made blacks be served only in the back of the store. He also corrected a white police officer who called him "boy", declaring that he was a man. (Detroit News, Jan. 16, 2006) His son Dexter Scott King said, "Greatness was thrust upon him, and for some internal reason or external destiny he did not turn away." Just like Dr. King, Moses saw the oppression of his people in Egypt. Fleeing for his life after killing an Egyptian, Moses was living a quiet life, married, having children and tending the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro when God interrupted his life and called him to service. And he did not turn away.

Not that both men didn't have some fears, insecurities and self-doubt to overcome. Dr. King had to surrender his expectations of the way he thought life was going to be to heed the call to become a leader in a movement bigger than himself. He had to muster up boldness, willingness and surrender to his God to go forward. Moses questioned his own abilities. Low self esteem said, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3: 11) Doubt asked, "What if they don't believe me?" (Exodus 4: 1) Lack of any confidence in himself said, "I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." (Exodus 4:10) Fear screamed, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it. " (Exodus 4: 13) Both men trusted in their God, heeded the call on their life and obeyed.

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August of 1963, Dr. King gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. In the shadow of Mount Sinai, Moses read the commands that were written by the very finger of God to the people. Both men presented the way to a better life. The way to peace and prosperity. Both men's words are still being ignored.

So what does this mean to us, on January 17, 2006....thousands of years after Moses and forty some years after Dr. King? Have we reached the promised land? I believe we have come a long way but I also believe that we have a long way to go. Racial prejudice lay behind more than half of the 7649 hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2004. I personally see racial profiling in action in my community when motor vehicles are pulled over for traffic stops. There is still a huge disparity between blacks and whites in America. Closer to home, I grew up in a family steeped in racial prejudice and hatred. And appalling and ugly as it may sound, it grows like a festering sore in many of our churches. Sunday morning is the most segregated morning of the week. Despite my attempts at educating those that don't know any better, I have heard white Christians say that black people like being on welfare and are just too lazy to work.

So back to...what can I do? I must become intentional about improving relationships that I have with those brothers and sisters not like me. I am blessed to be in a fellowship that is very diverse and is quite intentional about being so. I must understand that the church that Jesus regards as after His own heart is diverse and very colorful. Look at what Heaven will be like: "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb." (Revelation 7: 9)

I must teach my children and model for them that racial prejudice is wrong. I must believe that every person has worth as an individual and that they are entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of race or color. I must strive daily to eliminate racial prejudice from my thoughts and actions. I must speak up when I see racial prejudice by others. Like Moses and Dr. King, I must trust in my God, obey His word and never turn away from what I know is right because of fear or rejection. I would like to be a part of that "beautiful symphony of brotherhood" that Dr. King spoke of in his speech. The one where "we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day." And as I hold your hand, my white brother or sister, and with my other hand, hold yours, my black brother or sister, may we all give the world a little glimpse of what Heaven will really look like.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

#28 Are You Disturbed, Distressed and Tormented?

#28 Are You Disturbed, Distressed and Tormented?
January 10, 2006
"...Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) - " (2 Peter 2: 7-8)

Lot lived in Sodom. Rabbinic writings tell us that the inhabitants of Sodom were nasty, depraved and uncompromisingly greedy. Classical Jewish writings affirm that the primary crimes of the Sodomites were, among others, terrible and repeated economic crimes, both against each other and to outsiders. Traditional theologians and bible scholars believe that Sodom's sins were primarily homosexuality and rape. Ezekiel 16: 49 tells us, "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen."

The Bible tells us that Lot was a righteous man. In the Greek, the word 'righteous' means equitable in character or act; by implication, holy and innocent. What a horrible place to live for a holy and innocent man! But eerily, his land seems so much like the one in which we live today. I am not writing today to list the wrongs of America and the coming judgement. I am writing today to search our own hearts to see if we, like Lot, are distressed and tormented by what we see. We are the righteous. Not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus did on the Cross. Because of His death and because He took our punishment, we are the "righteousness of God in Christ." (See 2 Corinthians 5:21) So, do we care? Are we, like Lot, disturbed or distressed by what we see going on around us?

The 21st century Christian is a busy person. With work, school, children, social activities, church attendance and ministry responsibilities, do we have time to care? I submit to you that we must! Let's sit in the gateway of our Sodom (see Genesis 19: 1) and take a look at what's going on. Maybe if we take the time to watch, we will be disturbed enough to be distressed, distressed enough to be tormented and tormented enough to take some type of action.

The United States has one of the highest abortion rates among developed countries. (Alan Guttmacher Institute, Facts in Brief, New York, NY, 1995) At current rates, an estimated 43 percent of American women will have at least one abortion by the age of 45. Over one million unborn babies are slaughtered every year. I use the word slaughtered here because that is the word my Bible uses when it tells me to "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?" (Proverbs 24: 11-12) God knows. We know. And He knows that you know. Are we disturbed, distressed, tormented enough to do something about it?

Half the world lives on less than two dollars a day. According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death. (State of the World?s Children, 2005, UNICEF). That is about 210,000 children each week, or just under 11 million children under five years of age, each year. In 2004, 37.0 million people were in poverty here in the good old US of A, up 1.1 million from 2003. It only takes a few clicks of the mouse to be aware of these frightening statistics. Ronald Reagan once said that the war on poverty was won by poverty. Do we get disturbed when we see the homeless begging for a dollar or do we worry about where he will spend our dollar? Do we feed the poor or judge that they like being on welfare? Wall Street journalist Gerald Wisz has argued, "Government cannot do what the church must." (National Reform Association Newsgram, December 1993) My Bible speaks to me again on this issue..."Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9) The Bible contains more than 300 verses on the poor, social justice, and God's deep concern for both. Are we disturbed, distressed, and tormented enough to do something about it?

The Bible tells me that God created man and woman. Male and female He created them. (Genesis 1: 27b) He told them to be fruitful and multiply. And that "a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (Genesis 2: 24) This was the creation of the first family. There is an assault today on the family, the way that God created it to be. In the name of political correctness and tolerance, I am asked to call evil good and good evil. My Bible tells me that homosexuality is an abomination to the Lord (See Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13). I cannot call that good! Isaiah 5: 20 says "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." Are we disturbed, distressed, and tormented enough to do something about it?

Lest I keep you reading forever, I ask you to take the time to acquaint yourself with the issues of judicial tyranny, racial hatred that exists just as strongly today as it did in years past and the rise of Islam and the threat that it truly is. It's a busy place at the city gates, isn't it?
Are you just a little disturbed... distressed... tormented? I hope so!! What will you do?

We can choose the way of passivity and wait for fire and brimstone to fall on the world as in the days of Sodom. While there is a day of judgement coming and I believe it is soon, we must act today. I think that in the closing words of the book of Jude we may be able to find our plan.

Jude, a brother of Jesus and James, tells us that in the last days there will be those who have a desperate lack of spirituality. They will scoff. To scoff is to act impiously towards holy things, and scoffers do not obey the law of the Spirit, but follow the law of fleshly passion. He first tells us to "build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit" (v.20). This we do in contrast to the scoffers. Not as self-righteous, exclusive persons but as those following Christ, His Word and His way. Build yourself up in the faith. Study, learn, grow , pray. Get empowered by the Holy Spirit and seek God for what He would have you do. Ask Him to break your heart with what breaks His. Ask Him to get you pumped up with what gets Him pumped up. Ask Him to disturb, distress and torment you with what does the same to Him.

Second, "keep yourself in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life." (v. 21) Live in the love of God...expect eternal life in Christ. And because you are living in the awareness of God's love for you...love others. That love will cause us to be merciful (v.22) and snatch others from the fire and save them (v. 23). We will love...we will care...we will have the Christian attitude of mercy towards the sinner, coupled with abhorrence of his sin.

I'm not asking you to find a cause or join a group. That would be good in some cases but our eyes need to be open to what is going on right around us. Be alert, be aware...listen to people's stories..hear their needs. We must come out of our own self-contained lives. Make friends with that pregnant teenager who doesn't know what choice to make. The world is laughing at her and calling her a tramp. Love her. Support her. Lead her to make the right decision. Buy a meal for that homeless man that you see every day on your way to work. Don't try and figure out how he got there...perhaps you can figure out how to get him out. Start a relationship with someone you know who is living a sinful lifestyle. Not by judging, but by being their friend. Never condone the sin but love the person just like Jesus did. Help a family that is struggling to make it on public assistance. Most are caught in a trap and don't want to be there. The Lord puts people in our lives everyday. He sets us up to be a blessing. Are we alert enough? Are we disturbed enough? Are we tormented enough? Are we watching who passes by our city gates, our Sodom? We can't save the whole world, but each one of us can reach another one, and one by one we can really make a difference.

Disturbed, distressed and tormented,

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

#27 Reflections for a New Year

#27 Reflections for a New Year
January 3, 2006
"...But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3: 13b-14)

Happy New Year! I hope that your holiday weeks have been blessed and that Jesus was the main focus of your thoughts.

This week we stand at the threshold of a brand new year. 2006...can you believe it? I'm sure that in some ways you are like me and that there are some things that you are glad to see behind you. But I'm sure that there are also good memories and hope for the days ahead. How do we most effectively go forward into the new year with renewed faith and a closer walk with God? I believe that it can be done in three important ways. And we must do them now...while the year is just beginning. There is nothing like a fresh start.

The first thing to do is to take a look at the past year. A brief but close look. Brief enough to stay away from wallowing in self-pity over things that didn't go right or letting bitterness take root because of hurts you have suffered. Brief enough to not become self-satisfied with your Christian career and think that you can slacken your pace. But close enough to see your many blessings. Close enough to see your many failures as well. Not to beat yourself up over them by any means. Remember there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (See Romans 8:1). But to learn from your mistakes. Learning produces growth. If we do not learn and grow from our mistakes we are doomed to repeat them. The Israelites just couldn't get that one right and as a result they wandered around the desert for 40 years. Where did you fail? What did you refuse to give up to God in stubbornness or rebellion, thinking that you had it all under control? Is there anything that you can own as a recurring sin over the last year? A secret place in your heart where God just isn't allowed? Ask Him to show you. Take a quick inventory of every area of your life...your marriage, your role as a mom or dad, your work, your friendships, your service to Him. In each area, thank Him for His abundant blessings and ask for help in the areas where you find yourself lacking. Tell Him that you can't do it without His help. And then move on.....say goodbye to the past...throw away all that extra baggage that weighs you down. Remember our verse? "Forgetting what lies behind." God says in Isaiah 43:18, "Forget the former things: do not dwell on the past." It sounds like we can look at the past, but we just can't "dwell" there. To "dwell" in the Hebrew is to abide, to root, to settle, to remain. Doesn't sound like a suggestion to me...when God says it, it's settled...it's a command! "Forget....don't dwell." Then....

Have faith for today. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, "..now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." Don't make Martha's mistake. When her brother Lazarus died, she called for Jesus to come. She had faith for yesterday because of the miracles she had seen Jesus do. If she didn't, she wouldn't have called Him. She had faith for the future....when Jesus told her that her brother would rise again, she said, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." (See John, Chapter 11) Faith for tomorrow...not today. God's mercies are new every morning. ( Lamentations 3:22-23) Yesterday's mercy will not work today. Tomorrow's mercy will not work today. His mercy if for whatever you face TODAY! God heals..today. God is our provider...today. God is our strength...today. He is everything we need and is able...today! Whatever you are facing, God could answer your prayer...today!!

Prepare for the future. Build a solid foundation. Jesus said that it is the wise man who hears His words and puts them into practice. He is like the man who built his house upon a rock. When the winds and the rain beat against his house, it did not fall. It had a sure foundation.(See Matthew 7) Build your life on the solid rock of Jesus Christ and His word. The house was built on the solid foundation before the storm came. Preparations are made for war when there is still peace. Prepare now for what lies ahead. There will be good days and bad days in 2006. Jesus made us the promise that in this world we will have trouble. Guaranteed, my friend, it will come. You must be prepared ahead of time to get the victory in the future. Read His word. Memorize His word. Renew your mind and think like God thinks, so that when that old lizard dressed in drag, the devil, attacks and tells you lies, you can fight back with the mighty shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. You can fight back with the truth that you have already learned in the good times. Get your armor on now (See Ephesians 6). It will be too late when the trouble is here. The successful Christian is ready at all times and attracts the attention of the unsaved by his responses to adversity. A calm, peaceful demeanor, void of panic, is a true witness of the power of Christ and His word residing in your spirit. Done consistently, the unsaved will want to know what you've got that they don't. And then you will be able to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3: 15) So preparation is just not for your benefit but perhaps for the benefit of others who don't know the Lord.

The good news is that while we may face trouble in 2006, God's promises for the future are for us too. Remember, He has a plan for your life. He says so in Jeremiah 29:11. He has plans for a future and a hope. For you. Things for you to accomplish. Blessings for you to receive. Favor to shine on you like the sun. Believe for better things this coming year. Remember that in Haggai 2:9 God said, "The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house". Remember Isaiah 43:18? The next verse after God tells us not to dwell in the past says, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Believe God for the coming year. I have felt in my spirit for some time now that this is going to be the year of the Lord's favor for those who are trusting Him and believing Him with all their hearts. I'm believing for big things in 2006. Why not? My God is a big God! This is your year...I'm not sure who this is for...but it's your year!! Set your face like flint. Believe God to be the God of the impossible. The God who loves you more than you can ever fathom. And "strain toward what is ahead" (Phil 3:13) as our opening verse says. Straining means stretching, pushing, reaching. It won't always be easy. Keep looking forward. You can't look back and walk forward at the same time. Go ahead, try it...can't do it. Forget the past...believe for today and have bright hope for tomorrow. I will continue as I have in the past to keep you in my prayers for a safe, healthy, prosperous and wonderful New Year even as your soul prospers (See 3 John 2) and you grow closer and closer to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Until next week,

Donna Schultz