Mirrors of God

Still, calm water is a great mirror. Onto it’s surface is reflected the clouds above, the birds flying over its glassy surface and the trees or homes that surround the water which can be clearly seen in its reflective surface.
Like the water’s surface, we are mirrors of God’s glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us why this is possible. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
We are being transformed, and it’s not some haphazard transition. Through the Holy Spirit we are becoming more like Jesus. His glory is being revealed in us. Not for us to boast about, but or others to see and desire it too.

Until we have a relationship with Christ, our hearts have a veil over them.
But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:14
The veil makes it impossible for us to see the glory of God. Our lives are dull, our minds unable to see or comprehend the glory that awaits us in Christ. It is like the lake on a cloudy day where there is no sun to light up the reflections that are right there, but can’t be seen.
The Light of the Lord, His glory is the ‘sun’ for our reflection. It illuminates us, testifying to the glory within us. Others are able to see their reflection in us, like the clouds in the lake, and clearly see their need for the Light that is in our lives, to be in theirs. This is a gift of God for the lost world He is calling unto Himself.
So, as I gaze at the reflections in the lake out back, I am thankful once again, that the veil to my heart has been removed by Jesus and that my light shines into the dark, showing the way home to the searching lost. So, be a mirror of God’s glory to the world that sits watching for it without knowing what they are watching for. To the glory of God, our Light, our Savior.

By Deni Fortuna

God’s rain is always falling

In recent weeks our lake out back has become quite thirsty. First there is the drought that has descended upon southeastern lower Michigan and which has yet to be broken. Then there is the blockage in the river coming into our lake. Several trees have fallen in and are restricting the flow of water to the lake. The result is a muddy, weedy lake that is neither pretty to look at or a joy for the water animals, fish and birds who reside on or in the lake. So, the lake waits for something to happen to restore its beauty and joy.

Isn’t this what happens to our soul?

We never meant for the drought to happen, let alone get so severe. When some days got busy and we skipped reading God’s word, we told ourselves it was just a couple of days, we’d be back to reading daily in no time. But, a few more days passed without relief in sight from the busyness of the world and Bibles remained in the same spot we left it.

In order to meet our deadlines, our prayer time with God got shorter. Then a little less frequently, and then some guilt began to creep in. We justified our actions, well our in-action really, by telling ourselves God understands. Little by little our spirit got thirsty until we are in a severe drought.

We had left the rain of God’s Word that waters and feeds our souls, and some ‘trees’ fell into our stream of prayer with the Father. We are now parched, dried-up, not able to sustain others let alone ourselves.

Well, unlike the lake, we don’t have to wait for rain or for someone to clear out the trees. God’s rain is always falling, we just have to put ourselves back into it; open His Word and open our mouths. Reading God’s word and taking time to talk with Him gets the water flowing and our thirst quenched. We can ask God for help in managing the trees so we don’t get cut off again from His life-giving water.

When your water level drops, don’t ignore it. Get out your sword (the Word of God), hack the trees away, put time into your relationship with the Lord and feel God’s reviving water restore you and get you flowing again in His Kingdom.

 ~ Deni Fortuna

Chalk Board of Life: The storms ahead

Picture this image for a minute. Standing in the middle of the sea, and you see so many white caps, one after another heading toward shore. As you try your hardest to stand up straight, along comes a bigger wave. Going through your mind is “how am I going to withstand it”? Will you fall, or will you remain standing?


That was me, standing in the sea of Port Aransas, Texas. These waves were small, but as I got closer, they would get bigger than I thought. They actually knocked me down a couple of times, but as I kept my eyes forward, I started to prepare myself again and again for the waves coming at me. Eventually, I didn’t fall down when they hit.

During that time in the sea, the Lord revealed something to me. As I stood still, listening with my eyes closed, the Lord said to me: “Danielle, see these waves? These are storms that will be ahead of you. I’m preparing you for them before they come. Don’t worry because I won’t let them knock you down. I will be there beside you, protecting and guiding you. Don’t fear, for I’m with you. Cast your fears on Me, for I am your strength.”

I felt at peace as He spoke to me that day. He doesn’t stop working in us, but continues and continues. In my past, I never knew how to fight through the waves, I just kept letting them drown me. But, today, as I give more of my heart to Him, He gives me grace and victory before the storms.

So, to end with this, think about the waves in the storms pushing you down and you struggling and fighting so hard against them that you don’t know what to do! Look to what the scripture says:

2 Chronicles 20:17 “You will not need to fight in this position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow, go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

I encourage you to allow the Lord into the midst of your waves. He will give you strength and miracles to overcome the storms ahead!

Danielle Ybarra

GOD’S GRACE

One of my favorite movies is War Room. If you haven’t seen it – put it on your ‘to do’ list. The story is life changing, one you don’t want to miss.
Yes, the movie is about prayer. But, it’s also about Grace, the kind that allows us to forgive.

Forgiving people that have hurt you or wronged you or offended you is hard! But, if you start with prayer – which is your part – and then let God do His part – the process is a whole lot easier.
Grace means that you have to forgive those who aren’t sorry and may never be sorry for something they did to harm you. And, you may have to accept that an apology may never be coming from someone who really should offer one. When you overcome these things, you break their power over you and it frees you. No longer are you burdened by the pain of these past offenses.

And you let God fight for you. It doesn’t mean that things will change in your life, but you are able to move on, free of the hold that was upon you. Free to move into the plans God has for your life. Free to become the person you’re destined to be.

Are there people to whom you need to extend the hand of grace? Some may no longer be in your life, but you find you’re still holding on to the wrong, hurts or the offenses they committed. You are still being hurt by it…they are not. So, you have to give it to God and let it go.

God is wanting a relationship with you, He wants to take you to the next level but you won’t be able to move if you’re holding on to the weight of past hurts. Give them grace – give them what God has given you; Grace. He gave us grace when we didn’t deserve it. God gave His Son to die on the cross for us; the ultimate example of God’s Grace.
When it seems too hard to give to God the past hurts people have done to you, to offer them forgiveness and grace, think about God’s Grace you have experienced; what He gives to you and me every day.

Hebrews 4:16
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Proverbs 3:34
Surely, He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble.
Grace is the ultimate pain reliever. Why continue to live with the past hurts when you can be relieved of them right now. Just go to God who will help you extend the grace needed for your healing.

~ Ruth

~ Ruth

“A Look in the Mirror” 

Take a minute and go find a mirror. They are everywhere, it’s so easy for us to see our reflection. You can just simply turn on the camera on your phone and flip it to selfie-mode. (Come on, you know you put your lipstick on that way too!) We have become a selfie-obsessed culture. Obsessed with the way we look and the way we present ourselves. 
Let’s take a second to look at ourselves in that mirror. But not the outward appearance. Put self-judgment aside and look deeper into yourself. What do you see? Do you see a someone whom God loves and created beautifully in every way? Or do you pick apart the pieces of yourself, wishing for change and hoping for what others have? 
You may feel unworthy when you look in that mirror. Maybe as a child you were never truly loved by a parent. Maybe your spouse has broken your heart. Or someone has shamed you in some way and you’ve started believing lies about yourself. The amazing truth is – that no matter what anyone says, no matter what you think of yourself – the truth is you are of such high value. If you were the only person on earth, God still would have sent His only Son to die for you! He had YOU in mind, sweet friend. I can’t get enough of that truth. I am enough for Him and so are you! 
In the book of Psalm, David is praising God for the way He is made. He’s not being boastful and posting gym selfies showing off his muscles. He’s a man after God’s heart – saying “Wow God, you are awesome for the way you created ME!” Instead of shedding tears over the scale or picking apart his outward appearance – or better yet comparing himself to someone else – David just said: “Thank you God for loving me so deeply and making ME the way I am!” 
When we begin to say: “thank you God” and love ourselves, our love for Him only grows more intimate! How can you thank God today for the amazing way He created you?
Angie

Mirror

The lake looked like a mirror this morning as I sat looking out the window. There was no wind to push the water along, so it appeared peaceful and calm. Often our lives look this way. We’ve gotten used to the way things are and we are at peace with the status quo. We think God must be ok with the way our life has settled since everything is going so well. So, we’re surprised when a fish jumps in the midst of our calm waters and all we can do is watch the ripples begin to form on the mirror of our life.

calm-lake-mirror blogWhat happened? God happened!

I’m sorry if this is news to you, but God doesn’t like status quo. He doesn’t like our lives resembling the calm of a mirror-like lake. There is no growth or change when nothing is happening. So, He’s happy to send a fish to ruffle up our lives and get the water moving. His Kingdom can’t grow if all we’re doing is sitting and looking at the calm of our lives. So, don’t resent the fish God sends. Instead, embrace the waves that come into your life and thank God for caring enough to send you a fish.

But watch out for the geese that come crashing into your calm waters. These unwanted visitors can cause some real damage to the calm you have held onto, but God can use anything when He needs to get us moving instead of sitting and watching nothing happen. God knows they are coming and is waiting for you to ask for His help with the mess the geese will make of your life. So, don’t try to scare them off by yourself. Ask God for help. He’s had a lot of experience with unwanted visitors.

Deni

Encouragement for the lonely

Excerpts from “Abandoned”
When he walked out the door life was over. All her hopes and dreams, they left too. There was nothing left but a big empty house And a heart with hurts brand new.

A heart when its broken makes a terrible sound. One God actually hears far above. Like thunder and lightning, a raging storm, as the heart is slowly drained of its love. When she hit her low, the enemy waited To whisper “it can all be done soon.” He offered her comfort from all the pain if she would just quietly go to her doom.

 Loneliness is a painful way of life. One that separates us from others, making us a target for the enemy. It happens slowly, so we don’t see it coming until it’s too late. And then we don’t know how to get rid of it because a wall has been erected between us and everyone else. At least, we see it as a wall, and that perception is truth to the lonely.  

King David certainly knew loneliness. As a young man he spent days and weeks at a time alone with his father’s sheep. He had no one to talk to or share his thoughts with. His brothers left him alone out in the countryside with no company except for the sheep he was to protect. What a lonely existence that must have been for the young man. But, David knew something we should all take note of. He knew he was never alone. His God, the God of Jacob, was ever with him. David spent the lonely hours singing to his God. Talking to Him about the things that troubled him and thanking Him for all that God did for him repelled the loneliness that always threatened. God was his constant companion. Psalm 3:4 “I cried to the Lord with my voice and He heard me from His holy hill.” David knew God was always listening for his voice. He had only to “cry out” and God was there with him reminding David that He was near.

Paul and Silas spent some lonely time as they traveled and preached of the Lord. One night, after being beaten and thrown into the deepest darkest part of the prison, they once again experienced separation from the world. But they knew what each one of us must come to know. The Lord is always there. So, they opened their mouths and began to sing to the Lord.  

Acts 16:25 “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,” And just like He did for David, God was listening and He made thinks happen.  Release from loneliness is only a song away! God is listening to hear your voice. It is a sweet sound to His ears. Sing of His Glory. Sing of His Mercy. Sing of His unending love for you. You invite Him into your home, into your life, when you sing of your love for Him. You will never be lonely when He sits with you listening to your songs of love.

 So, when life turns and all seems lost it’s a lie from the enemy’s lips. For with God you are never ever alone, just be patient, let God your world tip. The pain will still be something to bear, but remember that God has your hand. As He gently and lovingly guides your way, dries your tears and helps you withstand.

~ Deni

LEARNING TO DANCE IN THE RAIN 

Have you ever been in a situation or had a problem that seemed to never end? Are you in one now? How do you handle times like those? Me, I use to worry and I’d try to find a way out. But, it never worked out right no matter how hard I tried, and sometimes I would just make things worse. Sometimes, I would have to go around that mountain (the problem) again and again because I wanted to do it my way.
Problems (storms) are going to come. But, it’s how you handle the storms that’s important. I think God looks not at our ability to wait for our storms to pass but how we act while they rage and we wait. 

We have all been through different storms – some of us are going through them now. We don’t go through them alone though, He is right there with us. I believe God wants us to grow through our storms. He doesn’t want us to become our storms or to become bitter and hardhearted. He has another plan for these times.

The Word says in Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

The Word also says in Philippians 4:6 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

I have by no means mastered this yet. But as my relationship with my Father grows through prayer and being in His presence, so does my faith that He knows what is BEST for me. Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass, because they may or may not take a long time to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain – while the storms are raging.

Having the peace that passes ALL understanding is not going to be easy, but with God all things are possible.

Ruth

The Pattern

If I were to ask you what do you believe is your purpose in life, what would you say?  
Since you’re reading this message, hopefully you would say prayer warrior.

But, praying isn’t the only thing warriors are to do in God’s Kingdom. It is an essential part, but sadly we would run out of warriors if new ones aren’t taught the art of their calling. So, teaching others how to become skilled in the ways of prayer warfare is essential. 

So, how would you teach someone to pray when they’re going through a storm?

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

1. Go to God in prayer. Take time and go again and again until your prayer is answered.

2. Pray in Supplication – asking or begging earnestly or humbly of God.

3. Thanksgiving – praise Him for what he’s going to do for you.

4. Request – Lord I am declaring this over my life in the Name of Jesus.

Your part is: to continue praying for the person or situation and asking God if there’s a scripture or something else you should share and for Him to show you the best way to minister to them so they get it.

How would you teach someone how to pray when they say they do not know how?

Go to Jesus, who is the greatest Teacher, for advice. He shared The Pattern with us so our prayers are effective and they get the desired results.

The Pattern: 

“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭11:1-4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Sacrifice and Marriage

In today’s culture, sacrifice is deemed as something negative.  However, in marriage, it should be considered a positive thing. Think about the Hebrew definition of sacrifice:

The Hebrew word “zabach” means to slaughter for sacrifice, slaughter an animal (usually in sacrifice), to kill in sacrifice, to slay.  It is the act of giving something up as an offering to someone or something else. In the Old Testament, the sacrifice was made on behalf of the people to God.

While teaching a recent marriage class, everyone was asked to “Create a list of sacrifices you make in your marriage.”

I could readily write the daily ones, like driving so my wife doesn’t have to or watching a chick flick, etc. But what about the real sacrifices, the ones that cost you something? Like putting your spouse above all things, above all other relationships? Or above your wants or your needs? Remember your wedding vows, “Forsaking all others?” It really made me think about the things I am forsaking or sacrificing for the sake of my marriage.

And as I pondered these questions, I came up with three areas I felt were of utmost importance to us all.

  1. Time
    1. Spending time in prayer for your spouse instead of what you normally do. Covering your spouse, marriage and children in prayer is vital for the head of the household.
    2. Sacrificing the time, you would normally do things for yourself and instead, using that time to invest in your marriage. Invest is from the Medieval Latin “investire,” meaning “to clothe.” Now I say invest in the sense of clothing your spouse with Honor, furnishing or equipping your spouse with power or authority, to covering completely, to endowing with a quality to infuse.
    3. Don’t allow your children to be the main focus that consumes your time. They will grow up and eventually leave, what then? So many couples find themselves as roommates or worse yet, as total strangers when their children are out on their own. Invest in your marriage so your children can see what a biblical marriage looks like.
    4. Remember, the setting aside of self is key to a successful marriage.
  2. Your Mouth
    1. Often, we want to be right as opposed to being wrong. However, it is better to edify your spouse than to be right. How much more peace would be in our marriages if we were willing to stop worrying about being right or wrong?
    2. Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV) Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit. Speak life to your spouse. We often lose the simple words of encouragement to the hustle and bustle of work, kids and life happening.
    3. Take advantage of the time you have together and speak words of edification to your spouse. In Numbers 6 24-26 we have an outline as to how to greet each other. How amazing it would be to greet your spouse with this blessing.
      1. 24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”’
    4. Your Eyes
      1. In today’s culture, we are bombard with all types of sexually seductive images and it takes work to shield your eyes from them. I’m reminded of the Sunday school song the kids sing, “O be careful little eyes what you see, O be careful little eyes what you see. There’s a Father up above and He’s looking down in love So, be careful little eyes what you see.”
      2. What you allow into your “eyegates” can adversely affect your marriage. For what you allow in is inadvertently allowing a sinful stronghold to be built. First glance, you think, no big deal. Second glance reveals a weakness and the third glance is no longer a glance at all.  You are actually opening your “eyegate” to lust and the sin that will follow.
        1. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28 (NKJV)” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
      3. Forethought for your “eyegates”: be proactive, not reactive, before you decide to look. What is your plan? We can often see things inadvertently, but what is your plan to overcome these situations? I often tell men how when I first started working out I was lifting weights that were a little heavier than normal and required me to have a focus point on the opposite wall. A few minutes into one of my workouts a woman stood right in front of my focus point and began her workout. I then took half a step backwards with one foot and found a new focus point, removing her from my vision. You have to know what you’re going to do when your “eyegates” are compromised. Be proactive and plan how you’re going to react, what you are going to do to clear your vision.

So, I challenge you today, to examine how you sacrifice for your spouse, your marriage, your time, your speech and your eyes!

 

Pastor José