Sunday, August 21, 2016

Is there an angel in your community???

"Loneliness is simply feeling like no one really cares about you or about your life. Loneliness very well may be the most destructive emotion of all. If satan is NOT able to trip you up with worry & fear, he will try to alienate you from healthy relationships because even satan knows the power of two!"
Carol McLeod
Just Joy Ministries
Holy Emotions-Biblical responses to every challenge
on YouVersion app.

I shared a very honest part of my testimony in my last blog. I feel like after just saying yes to God's prompting to share such an intimate moment, His response was IMMEDIATE...not because of my own speedy understanding, but because of His perfect timing. 

I started this wonderful devotional via my YouVersion app about 2 1/2 weeks ago...just a few days after our move. It's called "Holy Emotions-Biblical responses to every challenge." In every single one of the devotions I have read since beginning this amazing, eye opening study, I have heard a whisper from Poppa God. He will open my eyes to the areas in my life that I am living by my emotions...He shows me in the consequences I have & continue to reap, by living by my self preserving emotions...He is cleaning my heart just like I have been begging Him to do for several years...He is faithful not to leave me the same as He found me. 

So this morning God woke me up @ 6 am...I always try to go back to sleep, but when He says it's time to get up...there is NO going back to sleep. The first thing I heard was "get up now, go to first service, not 3rd." ...I wasn't ready to be up much less be ready & at church at 8 am. Since I found out we were moving I hadn't really been going to church...I went a couple of times, but pretty much I had just stopped going. So one of the things I looked at as one of the huge blessings was that there was a church right down the street. It was one I had heard of from a couple of the other churches I had attended, including the one that God finally made me realize it's about the "relationship" not a "religion." But I myself had not attended a service there. So I was a bit nervous to begin with & had built a comfort zone around going to the last service...of course my comfort zone, never seems to match where He asks me to come with Him...but I am learning that if I am NOT willing to take the steps where & when He asks me, I may miss a big part of what He wants & wants to whisper through...& those whispers ARE very important, EVERY single one...missing one may mean walking back through the same struggles, over & over again.

So after my grumbling, because I am not a morning person, I started reluctantly getting prepared, mentally & physically to go to a brand new church, without the comfort of someone I know. I actually was excited by the time I was walking out the door, only 6 minutes until it started & that would be plenty of time... that's a perk for sure. I prayed & thanked God for this & asked Him to speak a mighty word to me through this message. As I was walking up, I was literally preparing "how" to greet the greeter when my sandal hit a BUMP & I stumbled forward, leaving my shoe back at the bump...instantly I heard Him whisper, "you can be who you are & stop trying to rush ahead." I only had time to smile & say "good morning" after that. I was greeted again as I entered the worship center, this time with a program & by a sweet smile & quiet "hello." I asked if I could sit anywhere & she replied, "yes anywhere you like." 

I searched the seats in the back, but for some reason my feet kept moving & I ended up in the 3rd row. I sat down & within moments the band began. The first song was one I knew & loved. Singing praise to Poppa God is one of my favorite things to do...I am able to just completely lose myself in lifting up my hearts worship & get right in front of Him & praise from the deepest parts of me...I tend to like to stand in the back because I am an expressive worshiper & don't like to disturb others. Today however I was led there I was lost in the devotion, singing & praising...when I felt a bump into my side...

Now, I just want to preface this by saying that there were rows of empty seats & I don't like to be crowded when I am enjoying praise & when I felt that bump, the first thought in my mind was, "there's no way that someone is close enough to me to bump me, unless they know me...not with all these empty chairs." Then I opened my eyes & looked next to me to find that yes...there was a woman standing there RIGHT next to me...a woman I did NOT know...she chose to sit almost in my lap, instead of any of the other seats. I looked up & whispered, "really, really??." I could have chosen to pretend to be the perfect "Christian" woman & gushed with a "false" excitement about this, or left my REAL selfish thoughts out...but then this wouldn't be the message God wants to share & so I chose to be who He is making me which is a "Christ follower"...a broken daughter He is re-building from the inside out. Which means that the WHOLE truth.

To that Poppa replied with a tap on my shoulder from this stranger & when I turned to see what it was...she simply pointed at her back, then turned around & showed me that her dress was not zipped...which stirred my empathy for her & without hesitation, I smiled at her & reached for the zipper to help her...If you know me, you know how much I hate germs, I am the cart "cleaner" not just the handle, any part I might touch. My guys know that we wont be going in until the cart is prepared. So when I felt the dampness of her dress, that's all I could think of was "germs from sweat"...which would not have normally tried to send me into panic mode because I carry sanitizer in my purse...but I had just changed purses quickly yesterday...most everything that I carry, was in my old purse. Here is where I had a choice...I could dwell on the fact that I had no sanitizer, or I could get back to lifting praise...instantly I felt a rush of empathy & joy, so back to praise it was.

After praise, they ask everyone to hug the person next to them & tell them they are loved...I turned to her & hugged her & told her she was loved...she smiled & looked down. Then I sat down ready to hear this wonderful word I knew God had for me & I heard Him whisper, "without knowing it some have entertained angels" I felt such a joy & then all of a sudden I saw someone out of the corner of my eye headed my way on the other side...I turned to see a wonderful sister in Christ & her daughter. I stood up excited to give her a hug & told her I was surprised to see them at this church...she then told me that her son was preaching today!! I didn't even know he was a pastor.

He began to speak & I knew instantly exactly what my Poppa had for me...His message was about "perseverance" along with a very deep confirmation for me about community.

He started in Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding it's shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne. Think of the hostility he endured from the sinful people; then you won't become weary and give up.

Right there, today wasn't going to be a message I had to search for...or listen for. God started right off with a wonderful reminding me that when I keep Christ as my focus...the sin will not trip me up...that EVERYWHERE we are, people are watching to see Christ in if I keep my focus & keep living this testimony with joy & peace, I will get my faith to Him. That what I am calling "a mountain" I've been dragging behind me...well that just doesn't compare to what Jesus keep moving regardless of what my emotions are telling me...recognize that it's all going to help me build my endurance & build His testimony...Don't be so easily distracted.

Then the neon arrow lit up & I heard the MIGHTY whisper...satan's plans are to ISOLATE me...he knows if he keeps me alone...then I will turn to my self-centeredness ...which makes it easier for him to tempt me & distract steal my focus. This is actually one of his better plans, at least for me it is...I really do not like being alone. It can become habit very easy for me to "hide out" for long periods of time. This message today helped me to understand why I have struggled with wanting to live. It's no mistake that satan uses this against me. I've soaked in vats of self pity for years in the has kept me from moving forward many times. This time, I heard God loud & is more than just "people to hang out with."

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:23-26

BOOM...there it was. His whisper...He has been working with me about being without "someone" to run to...He has met me on the floor of a torn apart closet...not because He wasn't there before, but because I had turned away & finally turned back when I hit ROCK bottom...He showed me WHO He is. Finally I understood when He lifted me up & walked me out of that closet...that I WILL NEVER BE ALONE...He will NEVER leave me...NOW He can build my circle.

A circle that won't take His place, just keep me from isolating, keep me from giving satan a malnourished playground to run rampant in. People that will live for Him first & point me to Him ALWAYS...He will be the CENTER of our relationship.

I was reminded that when you are in community with others, it's doing life...there are others He will use to speak to me & He will use me to speak to others. Where there is community there is perseverance. 

After this wonderful message I had a chance to give the sweet stranger a hug & whisper "have a blessed week." We smiled at each other & went our own way. I had a chance to chat with the sweet sister in Christ, her daughter & tell her son thank you for a great word. Thinking of the struggles she faced & feeling like I had just met a real life disguise. I headed home & remembered I hadn't read my devotion for today...I shared the beginning of today's devotion as start of this post. 

Yes, I hope you also see His NEON sign in the first several sentences He lit for me in this wonderful message...I definitely didn't miss that is exactly what He is walking me I am so grateful He is faithful to confirm His whispers...most of the time He does it pretty quickly, I just don't recognize it right away. I will say however that I couldn't shake the feeling of meeting an angel. 

For each of the devotions in this series they end with at least one Scripture that brings His word into the message...this morning after reading the devotional, they shared 2 Samuel 17:2, Matthew 18:19-20....

& finally...

Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained the angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

Hebrews 13:1-3...

Who could miss this NEON sign...I WON'T.