By KrisAnn Snow

 

“As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the

Spirit descending on him like a dove.” Mark 1:10

 

Notice how the Holy Spirit comes upon those whom He loves; gentle, soft, with purity and grace. Like a dove, He determines where He will land with precision and purpose. He does not come at random, but rather, He descends upon the believer at the moment of salvation. He fills you. He embraces you. He covers you. Unlike the rushing of the rapids, the Spirit flows into your life like a smooth stream, bringing with him stillness and peace. Heaven is torn open for you. God Almighty burst through heaven and earth to allow His Spirit to descend upon your soul. He has determined to land in your life, with precision and purpose.

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Perhaps today you feel the burdens of this life descending on you like a ton of bricks, heavy and overwhelming. You might struggle to maintain a balance between work, family, yourself, and your time with the Lord. When the world presses in on us, it becomes difficult to feel His presence. Often times we carry loads far heavier than our small souls were intended to bear. Christian, do not let the sin of your life or the sin of this world weigh you down. Loosen your grip. Drop your load. Let our Savior carry them for you. For Jesus says, take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

This morning as you read and pray, take some time to be still before the Lord. Ask Jesus to take from you that which weighs you down. Give your cares and concerns to Him. Pray that the Spirit would fill you and refresh you. Walk in the confidence that you have Him in you. The Spirit of the Living God has descended upon you, to empower and enable you.

By Krisann Snow

 

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

 

Kevin, my younger brother towers over me. He must have eaten more Wheaties as a kid because he is 6’5” and I am 5’3”. Needless to say, whenever we go anywhere together we are never in step with one another. He is always ten steps ahead of me and I am always out of breath to catch up with him. Why? Because we are not on the same level.

Unfortunately our Christian walk can feel the same way. I sometimes feel out of step with God and where he is taking me or what He is teaching me. Maybe today you feel like God is moving a little too slow in your life, that he isn’t hearing your prayers or making things happen.

On the other hand, maybe it feels like its hard to keep up with God, that he is challenYoung female legs walking towards the sunset on a dirt roadging you or pushing you out of our comfort zone. Whatever your circumstances, just know that there is a learning process that happens when we walk with the Lord. The awesome news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ entered our world to get on our level. He desires to be with us and walk with us. The more time I spend with Kevin, learning about his personality and hearing his voice, the easier it is to walk with him.

Walking with the Spirit is much the same. The more time you spend with God, in prayer and reading his Word, the easier it becomes to walk with His Spirit. He will lead you and guide you.

Prayer: “Holy Spirit, help me to keep in step with you today. As I read your Word, open my eyes to
what it means for my life. Give me an opportunity today to hear your voice and follow your lead. Thank you Jesus for coming down to my level, that I can enjoy time spent with you. Amen”

 

 

By Pam Otto

 

My intentions were good, the timing was perfect, and there was no agenda for the day. Ahhh, my short vacation had begun and I was certain that my morning time alone with God on the beach was going to be “productive and anointed.” My checklist was short: Bible, blanket, journal, coffee- Yep, perfect!

My plan was to start my day devouring Gods Word while hearing the waves ease upon the sandy shore, certain that God would reveal to me all that I’d been seeking from Him. I sat, looked around, inhaled, read and prayed with anticipation.

As I sat, I found my mindwandering…hmm, butterfly, bug, noise, breeze…I kept catching myself thinking “Come on, reel it in, focus! Why do my thoughts wander off so much? Is my brain working right? Do I have ADD? I seem so distracted in spite of my intent on concentrating on hearing from God!”

Others started walking on the beach, collecting shells, running, stretching, moving…it seemed these distractions were just enough to deter my focus on hearing from God.

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In my frustration and desire to accomplish my goal, I picked up one of my favorite old devotionals and began reading the days entry; it said, “God is waiting in the depths of your being to speak to you if you would be still enough to hear His voice.” Oh good, confirmation!

But wait, there’s more: It went on to say “Don’t be caught off guard by a thousand voices and sounds from without and within; words, questions, voices of the world, struggles, even temptations of the enemy.” No way! ~ maybe I’m not the only one who struggles with distractions and diversions.

God brought me to Psalm 46:10 which says “Be still and know that I am God!” This verse jumped off the page as a reminder that my job was to be still, (wait, lean into, be attentive) and know,(believe, acknowledge, fully trust) Him. You see, the enemy is out to get us any way he can, and he will use any tactic, including something as benign as small distractions, noises or a lack of focus.

We need to be on guard for the big and small ways that keep us from that true deep connection with God that each of us need and desire. The great part is that Gods Word is more-than-enough, and our Great Big God is more-than-able to meet each of us right where we are, distractions included!

James 4:8 says “Come near to God and He will come near to you!” Lets claim His Word and His promises over our sometimes hurried, scurried thoughts and lives. Lets devour all that He has for us as we diligently meet with Him in the busy seasons as well as the scheduled slower seasons of our lives.

I determined that the hard part isn’t really ‘hearing God’… the hard part is often learning to be still enough in order to really listen!

By: Mary Giraldo

The day I had longed for was quickly arriving. February 10th, 2015. This was a day that had been etched in my brain for several years. This was the day that had been set for my Dad to be released from prison. This day would have marked 8 and ½ years spent in prison. On occasion during our weekly phone calls we would talk about how this day would be; what his first meal would be, his first night sleeping in his own bed and the vision of his beautiful reunion with his wife of 38 years (my mom) who waited patiently for him to return home. As the 1 month mark approached, we received the devastating news that he would not be able to return to the home that he and my mom had shared for 25 years. At that moment I felt once again that the world was crashing all around me.

My pleads to God began, why?…Lord, he has been so faithful in clinging to you and furthering your kingdom behind prison walls, why can’t he come back to his house? The questions flooded our minds. But Dad wasn’t as concerned, his outlook remained the same – anywhere is better than here. Because of the nature of Dad’s crime finding a place for him to live was challenging. The prison system requests that an address be secured weeks before release date. We had nothing; day after day we hit road block after road block. I had the prison calling me threatening to list Dad as homeless if we couldn’t find anything. Dad remained unshaken – anywhere is better than here he continued to say, God is faithful, He’ll make a way.

I’ve often shared with others the idea of having what I call “life anthems” – worship songs that you hold onto and run to when your world is shaken and you can’t even utter words to speak in prayer. I’d flood the air around me and soak in these words of worship. Some of my songs include: Great is Thy Faithfulness, Praise you in the Storm, and most recently, Overwhelmed and The Rock Won’t Move. When my mind was overtaken by the enemies scowls of defeat I would hold onto the lyrics of The Rock Won’t Move by Vertical Church Band:

“When the ground beneath my feet gives way man-cliff-e1396845320493

And I hear the sound of crashing waves

All my world is washing out to sea

I’m hidden safe in the God who never moves

Holding fast to the promise of the truth

That You are holding tighter still to me”

Those last three lines were my promise. This song became my battle cry. God was my rock and He remains my rock. The song continues, “On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand, but THE ROCK WONT MOVE!” Even though we felt alone and defeated, God was reminding me of His truths; I was not alone. Psalm 18:1-2 says, I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Almost 11 years ago in 2004 when Dad was arrested I met Christ, I came into what would be the most beautiful relationship I’ve ever experienced – I learned of His faithfulness then. Dad was sentenced to prison in 2006 – we clung to God’s promises of faithfulness, even when the outcome was not what we expected. For 8 ½ years Dad served time in prison and by the grace of God used this time to share the love of Christ with others and experienced the supernatural protection of God – God’s faithfulness never wavered.

In the eleventh hour, 3 days before Dad’s release date, a judge overturned Dad’s restriction to return to his home. On February 10th, 2015 we experienced the fullness of God as we witnessed Dad walk from behind the barbed fences of prison into physical freedom. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we’d expect, but one thing remains unchanging, God’s faithfulness;

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

by Becca Christensen

 

God puts people in our lives with a purpose. Frequently when I look back a few chapters into the story, I’m amazed at how the Lord was working before I realized. I love to play hostess. Often you will find my kitchen table surrounded by a heated card game competition or my living room full of friends screaming the answers to taboo (oh wait, that’s actually me that screams). I make a habit of allowing people to bring along friends I don’t know, giving me the opportunity to expand my friend circle or in some cases my mission field.

One guy in my card playing crew asked me if he could bring his new girlfriend. I immediately said ‘absolutely, can’t wait to meet her’. Over the next few weeks as she would sit across the table from me and ask questions about my job, my church, and even my Christian version of a dating relationship I could tell it was a lot to process. Imagine my disappointment when they broke up and I thought ‘oh no, I missed my chance to share Christ’. Despite that breakup, we continued to get together and workout, walk, or she would take me up on my open invite to ‘pop by’ anytime. The conversations continued and so did my prayers.

It is beyond my way with words to explain the excitement I felt when she decided to try church. Shortly after her visit, she was unstoppable: joining a bible study, accepting Christ, and eventually getting water baptized! Celebrating each of these milestones with her despite her attending a church other than mine was encouraging, exciting, and the sweetest gift.

This Easter we were able to celebrate the true meaning of Easter together, for the first time. As we drove home from service I was able to share with her how I had prayed for her even before she first stepped foot into a church building. The Lord had pursued her and put Christians in her life so strategically. I also shared with her how I would never forget when she first decided to attend church she told me that in that tough season in her life leading up to trying church she had noticed the peace that the Christians in her life had, that she didn’t.

4cbbe5a392550b55a2ea2a5bdf7b9f28While the amazing part of this story is her journey and her faith, she grew my faith in the process. Her friendship and her story has been the perfect reminder to me of the power of being a light. In Matthew 5 scripture says that we are ‘the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden’. When we are faithful to live our Christian lives with love, compassion, and unwavering truth God can use that contrast.

We don’t always get to be the one to pray with a friend or family member as they accept Christ. They don’t always attend our church or join our bible studies. Sometimes we get to be a small part in planting the seed that have those results but we don’t get to be part of the results. I was blessed enough, this time, to get to see the answers to those prayers even if they came in the form of text message or face-to-face updates instead of first hand experiences.

My challenge is this – love people well. Welcome them. Be transparent with them. Pray for them. Plant seeds.

 

‘And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love’ –    

1 Corinthians 13:13