Friday, October 18, 2013

Shine Like Stars

Hollywood Star or Heavenly Star?

When I step out our back door at night, I see a clear sky. We live on the outskirts of a large city, and here in the boonies the stars shine brightly. There is no pollution, just clear nights with shining stars. The beauty of God's creation is visible without the pollution of civilization. When I look at the night sky in the city, I don't see stars. But they are there––just not shining through.

There are days that I am polluted too. It's difficult to see Jesus shining through the pollution. Do you know the feeling? You're tired or complaining and maybe even grumpy too. Philippians 2:14-16 says, "Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life..."

My friend Debi once asked me (more than a decade ago), "If you were to win the Lottery, what would you do?" It's kind of hard to win if you never buy a ticket, I thought. Before I could answer she said, "You don't have to answer. You'd go back to Bolivia, right?" Right! 

At the time, we were raising support to return to Bolivia. We didn't know if God would have us return to Bolivia or if He had another plan for us. We prayed for His plan, but in our hearts we hoped to return to our ministry on the field. We wanted to hold out the Word of Life for the Bolivian people and shine like stars for Jesus––showing His light through us. God gave us the desires of our hearts and provided for us to return to our ministry. Debi has since gone Home to be with the Lord. She was a star for Jesus on earth, and now she walks among the stars of heaven with her Savior. 

We are stars for Jesus on earth. Some days we may not shine as brightly as others, but at least our light flickers on those days because He lives within us. The world will see Him shining through us––whether as a tiny star or a galaxy of constellations.

Wouldn't you rather be a Heavenly star with eternal rewards instead of a Hollywood star with only earthly rewards? Not many of us have a chance to be Hollywood stars, but we all have the choice to become heavenly stars––shining for Jesus.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Walk on Water

Sunset at Sandy Cove Bible Conference

My husband and I were blessed to spend our first year in full-time ministry at Sandy Cove Bible Conference. In this beautiful setting, we served God along side dedicated staff members, and we had the privilege of sitting in on sessions taught by both famous and notable spirit-led Bible scholars. If you've never had the joy of visiting this spirit-filled place, you are missing out on one of God's blessings this side of heaven. If you ever have the opportunity to visit, notice the sign when you enter the conference grounds. It says, "Jesus Never Fails." And, I'm sure when you leave, you will never forget those three words.

When I lived in this beautiful place, I walked hand-in-hand with my husband to this sight by the water many nights. Not long after moving from our home town to North East, MD, to serve at the Cove, our first visitors arrived from our home area. They also loved this view at sunset. They'd been good friends for many years, and of course, we laughed together often. When their visit was coming to an end, I suggested we all go for one last walk to the pier, but that wasn't what I said. Instead, I blurted, "Let's go walk on the water."

My loving friend responded, "Oh, now that you are in full-time Christian ministry you can walk on water?" A good laugh was had by all that night. But, the disciples didn't laugh when they saw Jesus walking on the water. In fact, they were scared and thought Jesus was a ghost.

"When the disciples saw him walking on water, they were terrified." Matthew 14:26a (NIV).  I have to confess. I know the Bible says God works all things for good, but sometimes I am terrified about my circumstances just like the disciples were––when I am not walking by faith.

"Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on water and came toward Jesus." Matthew 14:29b (NIV). There he was, walking on water going toward Jesus. He experienced God's power. Can you imagine the scene? Wind blowing, waves splashing, but Peter wasn't thinking about his surroundings. He was just caught up with looking at Jesus. But then he saw the wind, the Bible says. Yes, he looked at the wind and not at Jesus. He took his eyes off the Lord and instead, looked at his circumstances, and he began to sink. His faith faltered. He cried out for the Lord to save him.

And then the Scripture says, "Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him." Matthew15:31 (NIV). Jesus didn't let Peter sink. He reached out and caught him––immediately. And what about Peter? When he focused on the high winds and waves, his faith faltered. But what he did next is significant. He looked to Jesus for help. While the waves pulled Peter down, his hand reached out to Jesus, and Jesus caught him. Peter was afraid, but he still looked to Jesus for help. He had faith that Jesus would help him. He wasn't focused on the waves then but on the One who could help him.

At times, we splash through the winds and waves of difficult circumstances. To maintain our faith when we are thrashed about, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and not our circumstances. Sometimes our faith may falter, and we may begin to sink, but Jesus will always be there to stretch out His hand and pull us out of the waves.

"And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down." Matthew 14:32 (NIV). Sometimes the winds howl around us, and other times they die down. But, whether safe in the boat, or on the water tossed about in the waves, we know we are safe because "Jesus Never Fails!" And, with our eyes fixed on Jesus, we can walk on water!

*Photo used by permission from Sandy Cove Ministries