While listening to a recent message by Jack Hayford on the “Spirit Formed” broadcast, I heard him describe Easter in this way…
The whole message of Easter is not that there was an event. The whole message of Easter is that Easter released a power that guarantees to everyone who will come to Him that there is a force that will reverse any situation that looks like its been a set up for a put down…to reverse everything in our lives that looks dead. But there is no promise of a schedule, of a schedule that will suit us.
Easter released a power into our lives that is available to us every day. Jesus is ever-present with us and He’s given us the Holy Spirit to forever abide in us. He is “the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25). When we believe in Him, life is present ALL THE TIME. There is a constant release of divine life and grace that’s always there for us.
We need to not only be conscious that it is there, that HE is there, but we need to RECEIVE this power so it can work in our lives. God will never force His will upon us, but His will for us is always for life and health and fulfillment.
If there is any area of your life that seems “dead” as we celebrate Easter this year, look to Jesus and receive His life-giving power for that situation. Receive His wisdom as your answer. Receive His strength to continue on the journey. Receive His deliverance.
There is no promise that it will happen on OUR schedule, but there is a promise that it WILL happen. Hold fast to that promise and you will see it realized!
Simply say, “Thank You, Jesus, for Your resurrection power that is available me to today to breathe Your divine life into my situation. I receive from You this free gift of power and declare that it will infuse my situation with life. Thank You for reversing anything that looks like a put-down in my life, for promising to turn it around for my good, and for using it to bring glory to the Father. I trust You and look to You as the source of the answer for every problem I am facing. In Your Precious Name, Amen.”
Go WHERE the Lord says go. Go WHEN the Lord says go. These are both statements that as believers, we would like to be able to say we would do. Sometimes the WHEN and the WHERE are very clear, but the WHY may remain a mystery. Are we willing to go with no real explanation of WHY, but simply in obedience to the voice of God that says WHERE and WHEN? How do we deal with ambiguity concerning the call of God? Let me tell you how it all unfolded for me…
Late last year, the Lord impressed upon my heart that I was to go back to Northern Ireland in February 2012. It would be my seventh time visiting this lovely country, so I could easily conjure up a long list of WHYs on my own. But the truth was, God had told me WHERE and WHEN, but He’d left out many of the specifics as to WHY. The WHERE was a no-brainer for me… of course I would go back to visit a land and a people I love! The WHEN… well, February is not the ideal time of year, but hey, they have warmer winters than we have in Minnesota, so that didn’t take much convincing either. As to the WHY… I knew God had a reason, albeit one that I knew not of, and so I decided to fully and completely trust His timing and pack my bags and go.
God has a purpose for asking us to do the things He asks us to do. What can seem insignificant, or silly, or even crazy to us is all a part of God’s divine plan. His divine plan to reach others through us – both saved and unsaved, and also to reach us through other people. Just as the Word of God says, He is delighted in our decisions to obey Him. Especially when we don’t have all the information.
“So Samuel said: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.’” 1 Samuel 15:22 NJKV
During the three weeks I spent in Northern Ireland, God moved in such a variety of ways! It would take pages and pages for me to describe all the wonderful things He did in and through me! Here are just a few:
I saw Him touch the relative of a friend of mine, just by sitting down and having tea with her. We were just supposed to stop and pick something up and be on our way, but if you’ve ever been to Northern Ireland, you know it’s practically impossible to get out the door without having a “wee cup of tea”. I had never met her before, so we began to talk and she asked me what I was doing in Northern Ireland. I began to share with her my story as to how God connected me with Northern Ireland many years ago, and had called me back there seven times – six of the times being in the past three years. The words I spoke seemed so simple and conversational, and yet she was visibly moved by my testimony and it was clear God was touching her heart. What had seemed like a “delay” to our plans in the natural was really an open opportunity to minister to someone God desperately wanted to reach.
I had the humble honor and privilege of witnessing relationships being repaired and restored that had once been broken. God in His love and mercy had orchestrated this divine restoration, and quite frankly, the only real part I played in it all was just BEING THERE to bring these people in to the same room together. I had no idea what was going to happen before I was standing in the midst of it happening. But in that moment, the Lord said – that”s WHY you needed to be here NOW. It reminded me that we are oftentimes just “divine facilitators”, used by God to bring people into a position where He can minister to them. Whether that involves bringing someone to a PHYSICAL location, or bringing them to a place emotionally where they are open to receive from Him, offering our lives to Him to use as He wills is amazing and rewarding.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
I had the opportunity to share and lead prayer at a house prayer meeting. We spent time in prayer for the nation of Ireland. The Lord also ministered specific words to people that touched their hearts deeply. God will prompt you to speak certain things to certain people, whether it’s during an “official” time of ministry or just in casual conversation with them. Be open to His promptings and quick to obey, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. It may be a word or phrase you don’t normally use, but it may have very significant meaning to the one hearing it. This can be categorized as a word of wisdom, word of knowledge or prophecy, but when it comes right down to it, no matter what you call it, it’s the Holy Spirit prompting you to reach someone on the Lord’s behalf.
I was also able to minister in a small church I had visited last year – to bring them the NOW Word from the Lord, a word of encouragement. I love going in to the small places that guest ministers may not often, if ever, visit. All of God’s people are important to Him, and this little congregation warms my heart.
In addition, I was able to bring a helping hand to a ministry that’s been launching out into new territory – to come alongside them and do whatever needed to be done to help them realize the vision God has placed in their hearts. I helped make fliers announcing upcoming events, set up ministry resource tables, served tea and biscuits, updated Facebook pages, and other computer-related items – anything practical that I could do to assist them. It’s just as much of a joy to be able to use natural skills and abilities for His Kingdom. I was not only involved on a practical level with this ministry, but on a spiritual level as well, through prayer and sharing the Word.
Now, God did not ask me to go there to give out without the intention of putting something back in! He used many people to speak very specific words to me regarding certain facets of my future, and plans and purposes He has prepared for my life. He gave me many wonderful times of fun and fellowship with dear friends, and added some new ones to the mix! He opened a door for me in the near future to go to an area in the Republic of Ireland that has been on my heart for nearly a year and a half. All I had to do was SHOW UP at the right time in the right place and He brought the right person across my path to make that happen!
One evening, we went to hear a minister from England speak who had experienced revival in his church many years ago. He and his wife literally lived in the manifest Presence of God for six months. From the start of the service, the atmosphere was different from any service I’ve ever been in. He shared out of 2 Kings 6:1-7 NKJV:
“And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.’ So he answered, ‘Go.’ Then one said, ‘Please consent to go with your servants.’ And he answered, ‘I will go.’ So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, ‘Alas, master! For it was borrowed.’ So the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, ‘Pick it up for yourself.‘ So he reached out his hand and took it.”
Many truths were shared from this passage, but one thing in particular that I want to share with you. Regarding the ax head – it is like a dream that the Lord has given us that has, for one reason or another, sunk to the bottom of the river. God wants to raise those dreams and plans back to the surface… but when He does, we have to reach out and take them. Otherwise, they will float by and someone else down the river will pick them up.
This very thing he was saying was mirroring something a pastor-friend of mine had said the day before when we met for lunch. She said God has a plan He wants to accomplish in the earth, especially in these ends times, and if we aren’t obedient to the call, He will just skip over us and find someone else.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be skipped over or let my dreams go floating by for someone else to grab. Our quick obedience to the Lord in every area will not only prove to Him that He can trust us and use us in any way He desires, but it will bring to pass the most fulfilled life we could ever imagine living!
God knows the WHY even when we don’t. Sometimes He will let us in on it in advance, but sometimes He needs us to trust Him so He can orchestrate things exactly how He has planned… we just need to be willing to show up and be a part of it! It is in that place of obedience that we will be the biggest blessing possible to others, and also receive a blessing in return.
This spring on April 14th from 10-12, join the Christian Recovery Counseling for their Seeds of Spring Event.
Therese Marszalek will be speaking. She is a close and personal friend of Celebrate Your Faith.
We hope to see all of you from the Twin Cities there! Click here to learn even more about the event!
MONDAY: Most children who receive shoe box gifts live in desperate circumstances. Pray that God will meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
TUESDAY: Pray for our ministry partners in countries around the world, especially that the shoe box gifts and follow-up discipleship programs will be effective evangelism tools.
WEDNESDAY: Pray that doors will be opened, so the Good News can be shared in countries that are you not receptive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
THURSDAY: Pray for those who fill shoe box gifts this year, especially for children, that they will see that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive.
FRIDAY: Pray for those involved in collecting, processing, transporting and delivering shoe box gifts, including the tens of thousands of volunteers.
SATURDAY: Pray for Samaritan’s Purse staff located throughout the world as they handle the logistics of Operation Christmas Child.
We thank you for your support as we celebrate the fourth anniversary of CelebrateYourFaith.com. Looking back, it is amazing all that the Lord has done through this business. We are looking forward to celebrating all that is coming in the future!
This has been the dream of our hearts; four years of learning, growing, and celebrating making a difference. Doing what we love with amazing customers and fans, beautiful artisans and their creations, and our special team of believers who work together for a great cause.
When we started CelebrateYourFaith.com, we deliberately chose July 7, 2007 (7.7.07) for our grand opening, as a powerful symbolic scriptural reminder of the Great Commission (see the post about “God’s perfection: Number 7“).
All of us at CelebrateYourFaith.com are dedicated to reaching the world with the Good News of the Gospel. It is our heart to support mission work and missionaries with proceeds from every purchase. This has been one of the biggest blessings to us, to see our support for missions directly affect the lives of people in countries all over the globe.
For more about our company story, see this article (PDF) from the Christian Booksellers Association’s November 2008 issue.
Celebrate. Give. Share.
With your purchases, you are helping us continue to touch hearts and change many lives. It is an honor to do what we love. Thank you for your continued support!
May 15, 2011 has been marked as Internet Evangelism Day, which is an annual worldwide focus day for digital evangelism. The entire month of May is also designated as Digital Evangelism Month.
The Internet is a powerful tool for reaching people all over the world. It may seem very obvious how people all over the world have the ability to access the Internet and as such, the Internet can be used to bring people to a personal relationship with Jesus. One site having amazing results all over the globe, including many countries where the Gospel is not easy to preach via traditional avenues, is Global Media Outreach. They minister to people in an important 3-step process.
1. Lead them to the Savior
2. Nurture them in Faith
3. Connect them to Church
Many ways exist to share your faith digitally: Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites; blogs or message board posts; email and text messaging (just to name a few).
The website blog.ourchurch.com has some amazing ideas for how to share your faith online in its article 20 Ways to Share Your Faith Online.
Internet Evangelism is such a multi-faceted concept. Sure, there are websites you can either direct people to, or that they find on their own. But, Internet Evangelism is transacted every day through many avenues.
Take Celebrate Your Faith, for example. We are an online retailer of Christian gifts. These gifts are purchased by people for the purpose of encouraging believers or sowing a seed into an unbeliever’s life in hopes of introducing them to Jesus as their Savior. In this gift giving process, the Internet was used as an evangelism tool.
In addition, CYF is steadfastly dedicated to promoting the preaching of the Gospel through direct monetary support of missions and humanitarian efforts. So, all the gifts that are purchased (for the purpose of evangelism) are also funding missionaries that travel all over the world to tell people about Jesus and His saving love. Again, the Internet is being used as an evangelism tool.
Another example could be sending a text message to a friend, confirming with them a time and place to meet up for dinner. That night, they decide to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. That interaction was also facilitated by digital media.
God is so creative with how He reaches people. He created the ideas for all the technology we have at our fingertips today. We as Christians need to harness its power and use it to point people back to Him.
Join us on Sunday, May 15 in using the Internet to reach out to a lost and dying world.
by Jennifer R.
As we approach the turning of the calendar year, a good number of us begin to reflect on all that the last year has brought us, and we look ahead to what we desire to see happen in the coming year. In some ways, it is an arbitrary moment in time, and it can be over-hyped with all the talk of “New Year’s Resolutions” that are statistically broken rather early in the New Year. But, as Christians, we can bring real meaning to this particular “moment in time” if we choose to use it to focus on God.
Whether it’s exactly as the clock strikes midnight, or sometime in the general vicinity of New Year’s Eve (say, give or take a few days either side), we can seize this opportunity to assess where we’ve been and where we are going. Are we still on the path He’s laid out for us? Or have we taken a detour, a turn to the right or left, or do we have trouble even remembering what path it is we are supposed to be on? Whichever of those categories you may fall in to, God is eager to speak with you and give you direction for the coming year.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
God does not want us to get stuck on our past failures and let them prevent us from moving further on in the plan He has for us. Neither does He want us to dwell on our past victories for too long, and be content with where we are. God’s desire for us is that we go up higher and walk in a greater fullness of His plan and purpose for us with each passing day.
So here in Isaiah, He says He is doing a new thing… that NOW it springs forth. I have a note in my Bible next to this verse from a mission trip to the Philippines that I was a part of in late 2002. We ministered at a Women’s Conference up in Baguio. Some women had walked for 3-4 days down out of the hills to attend the conference. It was an honor and a privilege to minister to these precious people who were so hungry for God. The note says, “Not a new thing to God, but it is new to us!” Indeed, He goes before us and prepares the way out ahead of us. God lives outside time, and He has already been to our future. That can be a little bit of a hard concept to wrap our minds around, but if we will grab hold of it by faith, life becomes less of a guessing game and more of an adventure. God sets us up to succeed!
“You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy.” Psalm 65:11-12 NLT
2011 can indeed be a year that is crowned with a bountiful harvest! This portion of Scripture was recently highlighted to me by a woman in Northern Ireland who was at a ladies’ meeting I attended the day before I came home. We’ve all endured some “hard pathways” in life. We’ve been in “wilderness” places. We’ve seen “hillsides”, or mountains, rise up in front of us. But with God, all of these things are turned for our good. With God, we “overflow with abundance”,l experience “lush pastures” and “joy”.
“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” Romans 8:28 AMP
We can all look back at 2010 and find an abundance of things to be thankful for. And we can orient ourselves towards 2011 with a greater expectancy than we’ve ever had that we will see God’s goodness in greater measure in our lives. Focus on Him each day. Trust that He is leading you in the BEST path possible for you. He knows you better than you know yourself, and He knows exactly what will bring you the most happiness and fulfillment, and at the same time, will further His kingdom on the earth in the greatest way.
Shortly before this year began, a pastor I know from Europe said, “2010 is the year of WHEN.” WHEN this happened, or WHEN that happened… did you experience it? I sure did. I realize just how true this was as I look back over the last year. This year, the same pastor recently said, “2011 is the year of heaven”. EXPECT 2011 to be a year of heaven on earth!
God bless you richly and super abundantly in this coming year. Happy New Year!
“Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel – which, when translated, means, God with us.” Matthew 1:23 AMP
Christmas is an exciting time of year. We hurry back and forth to Christmas parties and concerts, to the malls to shop for friends and loved ones, to the grocery store to buy ingredients for Christmas cookies and our Christmas meal, to the tree lot or tree grove to cut down the Christmas tree… and all the while, God is with us. But how aware of Him are we?
Jesus came down from heaven as a baby over 2000 years ago so that GOD COULD BE WITH US. He no longer wanted to be confined to the Holy of Holies in the temple, He wanted to reside and dwell among His people. Jesus made the way for that to happen.
Emmanuel, God with us…
Emmanuel has always been my favorite “Name of God.” Any Christmas song that speaks of Emmanuel is inevitably my favorite one on any album. “God with us” is truly amazing. The Creator of the Universe abides with us here on the earth. He is closer to us than our next breath. He is immeasurable in His vastness, and yet He is so personal.
He wants to be involved in all aspects of our Christmas season. He wants to touch you through a special song at that Christmas concert. He wants to show you the perfect gift for your loved one. He wants to enjoy the trimming of the tree with you. He wants to show you exactly how long to bake that sweet potato pie so it comes out perfectly. He wants to be “with us.”
Prince of Peace
The only way for peace to reside on the earth, and for goodwill to be toward men, is through the love of Jesus. Jesus is also called the “Prince of Peace.” True and lasting peace is an outworking of what we hold on the inside. As we are more and more aware of God’s presence, we can receive Him in greater measure as our Prince of Peace.
As our minds and hearts are quieted and at rest in His peace, then the overflow of peace begins to affect our relationships and external circumstances. Jesus came that we may “have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” John 10:10 AMP. Consider a glass of water. Until it’s filled up to the brim on the inside, it will not spill out and make the area around it wet. In the same way, we have to be filled up first before the overflow is available to impact those around us.
At Christmas time and on into the New Year, become aware of Emmanuel as you never have before. Allow Him to speak to you, to fill you up, and make an overflow available for all those you come in contact with. It will make the holiday season light up and sparkle in new ways, it will bring a greater meaning to everything you do, and it will deepen your relationship with God.
Christmas is a time of joy! There is no greater joy than knowing that God is right there with you and He desires to lead and guide you in every area of your life. He wants only the best for you! The level of joy you experience in knowing that is far above what anyone or anything in this world can give you!
To God be all the Glory now and forevermore! Join with the angels and sing His praises!
By Jennifer R.
“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on earth.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 MSG
Being in Ireland never gets old for me; God has supernaturally connected me there, and it’s a joy and a delight to return as often as He directs. Yes, even when it means I “bring the weather with me” and witness the most snow Ireland has had in 40 years! However, I knew without a doubt that I was in the right place at the right time.
Early on in the Prayer Assignment, the Holy Spirit spoke the word “Expansion” to me. We were in a small church in Londonderry, and our group was praying over the couple who pastor the church there. Shortly after He spoke that word to me, one of the other pastors spoke that word out loud as she was praying, a confirmation to me that this was an important word to hold on to.
The Lord began to talk to me about how a gas expands when heat is applied. Gases exist in the unseen realm, just like our faith does. For expansion to occur, the heat must be present. He said, “Don’t be afraid of the heat that will come; it’s necessary for expansion.” That is not always a comfortable message to hear, but it is vital that we listen to what He is saying to us, as it is often times a word of preparation for what is just up ahead.
The city of Cork was a highlight for me. Not in the way you might expect, and some might have a little trouble with me using the word “highlight” in reference to our time there. One of the pastors there brought it to our attention that the rate of suicide in the area is EXTREMELY high compared to anywhere else in Ireland. It is especially prevalent among young men who have a sense of hopelessness about life. But we, as believers, have HOPE we can share with people – the saving hope of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I believe this is an ongoing prayer project for me, and I would invite you to join along in praying for the people of Cork as you feel led. The reason I see this time spent in Cork as a “highlight” is because there was a revealing of God’s purpose in bringing me there – so He can use me as His mouthpiece in the earth to pray and stand against what is going on there. We are here on this earth to be yielded vessels for Him to accomplish His divine purposes.
“For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined &$40;planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” Ephesians 2:10 AMP
In Northern Ireland, when you see a YIELD sign, instead of saying “Yield” it simply says, “Give Way”. Someone on the trip commented that “Give Way” is a nice way of looking at how we should respond to the Holy Spirit. It conjures up an image of His gentleness that we can all benefit from being aware of.
“But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].” John 16:13 AMP
Despite the snow and the cold, we reached all of our destinations without incident, carried by the angels and protected by the Blood of Jesus. We spent time in Belfast, Londonderry, Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Each place had its own distinct purpose, but strung together, they revealed a larger plan. Not only for the nation of Ireland, but for my personal journey with the Lord.
I have so much more to share, but for now I will just extend a heartfelt “THANK YOU” to everyone who prayed for our team. Your obedience to pray at the “opportune time” will be greatly rewarded!
by Jennifer R.
As I was preparing to write my prayer request for this upcoming Prayer Assignment to Ireland (November 29-December 4), I was looking back over some notes I took during last year’s Ireland Prayer Assignment, and something jumped out at me. It’s a concept that really ministered to me then, and the Lord has continued to bring it to my remembrance at many different times over the past year. Spoken by the Pastor who led our Prayer Assignment… he said, “You don’t need to bust through the dam, you just need the flood waters to rise high enough so the flood gates open.”
This statement has served as an anchor point for me over the past year. So often, we try to “bust through the dam” when the best way is to just keep on at a steady pace until we’ve accumulated enough “water” to open the flood gates. That is not to say that we don’t experience “suddenlies” in our life with God, but it reminds me that miracles can, and often do, happen a little at a time. Our major thrust should not be to battle all the time, but to consistently and steadily fill the reservoir until it overflows.
Ireland is a special place for me. This trip marks the fifth time I will visit the Irish Isle. It truly feels like home each time I set foot on Irish soil. I have made some wonderful friends there, but even more importantly, God has chosen to give Ireland a special place in my heart. He has a purpose for me there, and an assignment for me to complete. I continue to return each time He calls, in order to walk out that purpose and be obedient to Him.
I believe a significant part of this Assignment is “filling the reservoir” with prayer: building up a spiritual supply in the land so that when the time is right, the flood gates can open and the Holy Spirit can touch the people in a fresh and new way.
The people of Ireland need Jesus just as much as the people of Uganda or China or India do. Even though most of them have probably been exposed to some form of “Christianity”, many of them do not know the joy and freedom that comes from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They are following empty religious traditions that are leaving them with no peace or security in life. Ireland is in economic turmoil, and the people need something, or more importantly, Someone they can count on. That Someone is Jesus. He is unshakeable.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”
Hebrews 12:28 NIV
I would appreciate you joining with me in prayer for this upcoming mission. Specific prayer points include:
- Good weather for travel to, from and in & around Ireland
- Wisdom for the leaders to know if/when God wants to change up our schedule
- Sweet sleep in order to be rested for long travel days and night meetings
- Favor with hotels and restaurants in accommodating large groups
- Unity among the group
- Discernment to recognize what the Lord is wanting us to pray out in different places
- Opportunities to interact with those who are seeking a touch from God
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Above all, I just ask that you let the Holy Spirit lead and guide you as you pray for this mission. Unforeseen things pop up every day on mission trips, so your best Helper and Guide to accurately address these issues is the Holy Spirit. Thank you in advance for your commitment to partner with me in prayer.