And My People.....

II Chronicles 7:14 declares, "...and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

This popular scripture came into being when God spoke to King Solomon just after the dedication of Solomon's temple. It was a glorious event. God's presence had descended and inhabited the most Holy place. The priests couldn't stand up to minister because of His presence. The glory of God filled the whole place in the form of a holy cloud! After several days of celebration Solomon blessed the people (God's people) and sent them to their homes. Shortly afterward God visited Solomon in the night. God said, (II Chronicles 7:12), "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice." But then God said something surprising. "If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (Verses 13 - 14). In essence God was saying, "If you turn away from Me to wickedness, I will send these things. And...if you humble yourselves, pray, seek my face, and turn away from wickedness, I will hear, forgive, and heal the land."

The key to God healing their land was to turn from wickedness back to Him. It was turning to wickedness that caused the bad stuff in Israel's history. What I love about God's Word is that He establishes immutable, spiritual principles all throughout the Word. There is a solid principle established in this passage. The fact that this is a spiritual principle means it is applied concerning God's people - throughout the ages!

Let's take a look at this principle as it applies to God's people (the Church) today. To see this we must look at II Chronicles 7:14 backwards! The end result is God healing our land. Yes, just in case you don't know it...America needs healing. But America needs healing because the church (God's people) needs healing. Here we go. God will heal our land ONLY if our sins are forgiven. It's God's grace that heals! And how can God forgive our sins unless He first "hears from His throne in heaven"? When God hears from His place in heaven He forgives. But then God will not hear from His place in heaven unless His people "turn from their wicked ways"! There it is. Could it be that our land is infirm because many of God's people are involved in wickedness? Please don't be offended (or maybe you should be), but much of the church today looks no different from the world. Remember, God's people are "in the world...but not of it."

Continuing backwards, the only way to "turn from our wicked ways" is to "seek God's face". To seek God's face is to go beyond normal prayer. To seek His face is to come before Him in brokenness, desiring nothing but Him; not what He can do; just Him. One who seeks the face of God is fulfilling Matthew 6:33, "But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." One who truly and fervently seeks the face of God simply cannot maintain a heart of wickedness. It is impossible. There is no place for wickedness in our hearts as we seek the face of God. (Worth repeating.) And that is our choice! But how can we truly and earnestly seek His face unless we humble ourselves and pray? The truth is, the process begins with prayer and a true desire to please God; a true desire to turn from the wickedness that degrades our churches, and therefore our land.

This scripture begins with God referring to "His people" as the ones who are called by His name. You are not called to God by your own name. (He may have called your name in some way to get your attention.) But you are called by God's name. Your identity is in Jesus as your Savior. You are saved in His name. You are His purchased possession. In Christ, and in Christ alone you are who and what you are.  Your calling is by, through, and for Him! As Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20) Your life is hidden with Christ in God...your redeemer, deliverer, and healer!

There is a move of God among His people this very day. It is a move to repentance. Many are ready for the "more" God promises if we simply stop living like the world and pursue Him. This land we live in won't be healed without God's people turning back to Him; God's people who are called by His name. The church must answer the call to repentance. Societies like our don't just decline morally over time. The truth is things decline when those who are called by His name fail to live and walk in a manner worthy of His name. If you are like me, your heart is stirring. You've seen enough of the mamby pamby, worldly nonsense the church has been involved in. You are ready to see multitudes catch fire for Him again. John Wesley was asked the question, "How do you gather a crowd?" He quickly responded, "I set myself on fire and people come and watch me burn!" Are others watching you burn? If so, God will heal our land...through you!
                                                                              
Steve is  available to teach/preach God's Word in churches, conferences, workshops, special meetings and groups. Some of the subjects include prayer, praise and worship, marriage, missions, etc., among others. If I can serve you please contact me at harvcel@gmail.com.

What God Is Saying

It amazes me how when God begins to deal with me about something, He seems to deal with others about the same thing! Something extraordinary has been going on in my life the past few weeks. Just a couple of days ago I turned on a Christian TV station to see if my hankering for "more" could be fed somewhat. A minister was sharing about an experience he had 10 years ago, and how it had transformed his life from the second it began 10 years back. From that point forward his life and ministry was catapulted into something on a higher and more significant plane. What he shared was exactly what I needed to hear! Not only that...it was exactly what I needed period! I was like a sponge as every single thing he said was me! It was almost identical to what God was speaking to me in this current time. How encouraging was that!

Let me share with you a bit of what God has been doing with me. For some of you, you'll think, "Oh, that's really nice!". But for some of you, it may just change every aspect of your life!

God has had me repenting of late for becoming comfortable in the state of the status quo. Notice I didn't say "God had me repent..." (as in once). But it's been a process. God, through much, much seeking of Him - continues to reveal to me ways and means in which I have become settled into that state of mediocrity. As serious, dedicated followers of Jesus we can slip into the state of accepting the status quo, resulting in a mediocre life and walk with Him.

Several things happen when one slips into the status quo as a Christian, but I will address one; one that truly leads to other things. When we accept the mediocre/status quo...we limit God. That's about as serious as you can get. We simply limit God. God is a big God...so much bigger than you and me put together! (Believe it or not.) To limit God is the same as not trusting Him. He is the God of the supernatural. He is the God of miracles. He is the God who is able. He is the God of more than enough. When our Christian walk slips into the status quo, we accept mediocrity and God is no longer BIG to us or through us. There is a call in the body of Christ at this moment. It is a call out of mediocrity, back into the bigness of our God! I pray you are listening and can hear it.

It is not God's intention to deliver you from the domain of darkness, and transfer you into His kingdom to do mediocre exploits for Him. Our God wants to do big things with you and through you. He wants you to attempt BIG, IMPOSSIBLE things; things that will definitely fail unless you put your complete trust in Him! But you see, from the state of the status quo, faith is nonexistent. We simply accept what life gives us and say within ourselves, "It was just God's will." From the state of the status quo we listen more to fear than we do faith.

God is extending the call to return to greatness...His greatness! According to the Apostle Paul, our call us "upward"! The call on your life is a high calling. Don't live beneath God's calling on your life. Every day of your life God wants to lead you upward. I recently realized I was walking beneath my calling! Are you? Paul says, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." A couple of keywords: Upward and Call. There is a high calling on you that leads you upward. It is incredible because God is incredible! Therefore you are incredible! That's what God thinks!

You may not be running with the force you began with. But you can return to the high calling on your life. You may have slipped into the status quo, but the calling is still there and God is eagerly waiting for your commitment to return! He stands ready to elevate you back to your high calling and beyond! The calling that is specifically engineered (by the Great Engineer), for you, and you alone! Return to the call...and be encouraged!
                                                                                                                
Steve is  available to teach/preach God's Word in churches, conferences, workshops, special meetings and groups. Some of the subjects include prayer, praise and worship, marriage, missions, etc., among others. If I can serve you please contact me at harvcel@gmail.com.

Are You Successful?

Are you successful? Of course this is a loaded question, but it will get you to thinking! Well...are you? Stay with me for a few minutes and you'll see where I'm going!

What do you think success is? Is it amassing riches and possessions? Many folks have great riches and possessions, but are extremely miserable. Is success measured by how long a person does a certain thing? Some couples have been married more than 50 years and say it was 50 years of misery. Is someone successful when they are famous? History tells us most people who are famous are not happy at all. Is someone successful when they reach the top of the corporate ladder? A lot of people are not happy because of what that had to do to get there. If you want to know what true success is....you CANNOT measure it by the above mentioned gauges.

So what is true success? It is very, very simple. Are you ready for this? True success is pleasing God. There it is. When the God of all creation is pleased...you're successful, no matter what you do! We are created to please God. So...is your marriage successful? The question really is...does your marriage please God? If it does, you have a successful marriage! Are you successful in your job/profession? Or is your job performance pleasing to God? If so...no matter how much or how little you make; no matter how long (or short) you've been there...you are successful! If your position atop the corporate ladder brings pleasure to God, ditto...you are successful.

True success is anchored in a genuine relationship with God through Jesus. This post is full of questions so here comes another one. Are you successful in your walk with Jesus? Is your heart set on pleasing God? If so, you are successful as a follower of Christ. The fact is, those who please God are not only successful in their relationship with Him, but they will be successful in other areas of their lives.

One of my favorite Scriptures (and I have quite a few) comes from Matthew 6:33. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Success comes when we put Jesus first. It's that simple! Once we truly grasp this...our life changes from the inside out!

The world has its forms of success. These forms are propelled by the world and all its systems. Systems like Hollywood and television, and entertainment. When one becomes famous through these medium, others consider them successful. Have you noticed though that most of these have a failed marriage or marriages. Others end up financially busted. Some end up busted by the law, and many end up in drug rehab with their lives in shambles. Are they really successful? I think not. To truly know Jesus is to be successful! Because to truly know Jesus you cannot help but have a heart after Him; a heart that desires to please Him first. Wow! That is success...and there are no limits to this kind of success!!

The good news for all of us is that even though we all may fail, we can come to Jesus. He stands ready to receive a sincere heart; a heart ready and prepared to please Him. Many times it is our failures themselves that turn our hearts to a loving and forgiving God. In Him we find forgiveness and peace that passes all understanding. In Him we find success!  What do you think?
                                                                     

Steve is  available to teach/preach God's Word in churches, conferences, workshops, special meetings and groups. Some of the subjects include prayer, praise and worship, marriage, missions, etc., among others. If I can serve you please contact me at harvcel@gmail.com.

The Calling (on you).

"...for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11:29) Paul was referring to the call of God on the nation of Israel to be the light of the world, and that His plan for Israel would be fulfilled when the time of the Gentiles would be completed. Even Obstinate Israel was used by God to produce to the world Christ, the Messiah...the Anointed One! The calling of Israel to be a gift and a light to the world has not changed, and will not ever change. God will carry out the call on the nation of Israel. Once God calls...the call is permanent.

The same principle applies to Christians individually. You are called by God; first out of darkness, and then to serve Him in ways and areas He has chosen for you. The calling and gifts on your life are irrevocable. God won't retract them and He won't change His mind about them. Your responsibility and mine is to answer, obey, and believe in the calling on our lives. And there is one thing you and I must always remember in order to complete God's call upon our lives. The calling is not about you (or me). Instead, it is about Him. What He calls you to do is about Him and His kingdom. God doesn't tailor a calling to fit your life. No, your life is tailored to fit His call upon you.  Why? Again, it is all about Him and His kingdom. That's why Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." He, His, and Him come before I, me, mine, you, and yours!

Does everyone fulfill the calling on their life? Sadly no. Whose fault is it? Certainly not God's as the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. The responsibility to answer and stay true to the call of God is on you and me. It is true, life itself seems to be engineered to oppose the call of God on us. It is so easy to get caught up in the affairs of this life and lose sight of the calling. The greatest obstacle to the call on your life and mine is our failures. But remember. God never says we will not fail. Our failures can and should be used as teaching experiences we use to learn and advance the call of God on our lives.

In contrast, the greatest aid to the calling of God is to seek Him. (See Matthew 6:33 above.) While satan, our enemy doesn't want us to seek God, seeking Him is the very thing that clarifies the vision of the call. Seeking Him brings you and me into His presence where we hear His voice, experience His love, and receive fresh spiritual energy to press onward in the call. We must seek Him however. The call is irrevocable, but its fulfillment is not automatic. Remember, we have our vital part in it.

Perhaps you've lost sight of the call of God on your life. Maybe you feel you've been an instrument of God to a point and He's finished with you. You may even feel you've failed God, so He has removed the calling from you. God has not and will not remove the calling from upon you! He won't! You must believe this. He has great exploits in store for you...yet to come! Don't lose sight of the fact that the calling is about Him and not about you or me. We serve Him. He needs you and me to reach others. What He has called you to do carries incredible, heavenly, kingdom significance. From my own experience, the more I seek Him, the more significant I know my calling is. And let me tell you, I am convinced God has called me to do things He desperately needs me to do for Him! Things I cannot accomplish without His heavenly, supernatural power!

Finally, commit with me right this moment to go deeper with Him. Commit with me right now to lay aside any and every earthly thing that has hindered the call of God on you. Commit with me to seek first (with utmost priority) His kingdom, and His righteous. You must commit! I promise you will begin to realize the irrevocable, irreversible, unchangeable call God has placed on your life from way before you were even in your mother's womb! If you make the commitment, please let me hear from you! harvcel@gmail.com
                                                                        
I am available to teach/preach God's Word in churches, conferences, workshops, special meetings and groups. I love to encourage God's people. Some of the subjects include prayer, praise and worship, marriage, missions, etc., among others. If I can serve you contact me at harvcel@gmail.com.

A-n-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-i-o-n

I remember as a young person going on our vacations with the family to a little fish camp on the Jourdan River near Kiln, MS. Actually we went twice each summer; right after school got out for the summer, and just before school started back at the end of the summer. Back then it was the highlight(s) of my summer! And even now, I enjoy incredibly fond memories of our family outings there.

I cannot accurately explain the anticipation I experienced a few days before we went. Along with almost sleepless nights, I would daydream about fishing with Dad and of course, out-fishing him! Dad was an artist and days before we went he would draw caricatures of each of us pulling in the fish. Talk about fueling the anticipation! I wish I could get my hands on some of those old sketches! They were hilarious!

The dictionary says anticipation is "the act of anticipating or the state of being anticipated." "A foretaste, expectation, or hope. Anticipation is realization in advance. I like that. It is a foretaste of what is expected or hoped for.

What I love about serving Jesus is the anticipation I experience daily. What am I anticipating? Most of the time I cannot tell you exactly! But God is so good, He is so magnificent, walking with Him is such an extreme adventure that I can't help but anticipate what He will do next! In addition, being in His presence fuels anticipation of what He will reveal next about Himself!

And then there are those more concrete things I anticipate. Things like preaching and teaching His Word, sharing, church, and missions (reaching abroad to team up with folks in other nations.) I could go on, but I'll save that for another post.

To be able to do what God lays upon your heart is extremely exciting. But equally exciting is the anticipation I experience before those things take place! Anticipation is a foretaste of what is expected or hoped for. Could it be we need the experience of anticipation to produce healthy, active faith in our lives? I think so!

                                                                                                                             
I am available to teach/preach God's Word in churches, conferences, workshops, special meetings and groups. I love to encourage God's people. Some of the subjects include prayer, praise and worship, marriage, missions, etc., among others. If I can serve you contact me at harvcel@gmail.com.