See You At The Table

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“And it just so happened…”

I love hearing stories that contain this phrase, because most often what follows is an amazing proclamation of God’s provision and faithfulness. The story teller may or may not recognize that Almighty God is the One who orchestrates situations and circumstances of our lives, the good and the bad, in order to reveal Himself and bring glory to His name. Some may consider the “it just so happened” moments as luck, fate, or coincidence, but when it comes to how our God works, everything is providential! God’s unseen hands are sovereignly working in the details of our lives. If you look closely, you can see His fingerprints.

Most of us love those comeback stories! But there have been times when I have been that storyteller, and I would have preferred to bypass the most difficult and painful scenes, especially if I am the main character! I believe that if we intentionally choose to view these difficult times through the lens of faith, we will experience God’s tangible presence in ways we have not before. God loves us and grows us through those valleys and reveals different aspects of His character so powerfully and so personally.

In the book of Ruth (chapter 2) we get an in-depth look at how Jehovah Jireh, “The Lord will Provide”, shows up in power in the lives of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, who were facing hopelessness and much uncertainty about their future.

Can you relate? Maybe even now, you find yourself in a season of despair, wondering how things are going to work out, asking God, “Where are you in all of this?”

Let me assure you, brothers and sisters, He is near, and He is working!

Naomi and Ruth had left Moab and returned to Bethlehem.

And it just so happened to be the beginning of the barley harvest.

Naomi just so happened to have an influential, honorable relative on her husband’s side named Boaz.

Ruth just so happened to find herself working in Boaz’s field!

Boaz just so happened to be overseeing the harvest that day and noticed Ruth.

Consider the first words Boaz spoke to Ruth. “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls. Watch the field where the men are harvesting and follow along after the girls. I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.” (Ruth 2:8-10)

I don’t know about you, but during Sunday’s sermon, Boaz’s words jumped off the page of my Bible as I recognized them as a beautiful echo of the invitations that still exist for us today! It just so happens that Jesus has also invited us to “listen”… to hear His voice… and “follow” Him. (John 10:27) He invites us, and pursues us, to “Come and rest”… stay in His presence… “Don’t go away from here.” (Matthew 11:28) And “If anyone is thirsty, let him come and drink.” (John 7:37)

The Bible is full of “it just so happened” moments. How many can you think of? How often do we recognize these kinds of moments in our lives as providential gifts from God? I am asking Him to give us spiritual eyes to see Him working in the details of our days. “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” (Psalm 37:23 NLT)

Like Jesus, Boaz crossed many lines. Most obviously he, a devout Israelite, spoke to a despised Moabite woman, a foreigner, just like Jesus did when he just so happened to travel through Samaria and initiate a conversation with the scorned woman at the well. (John 4) Boaz showed loving-kindness, honor, provision, inclusion, and protection for Ruth just as Jesus did for all the women he encountered in the New Testament.

And He notices YOU! He has a divine purpose for YOU! He is inviting YOU, just like Ruth, to come and take refuge under His wings. When you intentionally receive that invitation to rest in that safe place, near the heart of God, your heart will be comforted (Ruth 2:13), you will be abundantly provided for (v. 14) and protected (v. 15-23).

Boaz even invited Ruth to sit at his table, and it just so happens, Jesus invites ALL of us to come and sit at His table, too. There is no need to RSVP. Just come as you are. He is working all things together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) Not to be a spoiler, but in case you didn’t know, Ruth is an ancestress of Jesus! Talk about redemption!

Yes, life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Like in Ruth’s case, apparent tragedies, in God’s providence, can become beautiful, spiritual stepping stones of redemption and restoration. God does not waste anything. He makes beauty out of ashes.

It just so happens… this is how God works!

See you at the table,

Jenny Gallion

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LIFE IS A ROLLER COASTER RIDE

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A roller coaster ride?  Yes.  The top of the hill is the place where the car slows down and you get to see the surrounding area.  It’s a vast conglomeration of buildings, streets, parking lots, and people.  It appears to be organized and functional.  That’s because you’re at the top.  You have a clear view.  Then what happens?  The car slowly inches forward to the slope of the car’s downward travel path.  You tense up.  You may close your eyes.  You will probably scream.  Sometimes you may go with your hands and arms pointed straight up to the sky.  That is NOT me.

Then the rush comes.  The view from the top is skewed.  It doesn’t seem organized and functional any more.  You’re maybe even frightened.  You can’t wait for the bottom of the hill to come.  You think it’s over.  But you’re wrong.  The same cycle goes on a few more times.  Maybe this time there is a section of the coaster that puts you into a spin.  You spin and spin and spin.  Lastly, you come to the end.  The car slows down.  You breathe a sigh of relief.  You wipe the tears from your eyes.  You smile for the camera.  You step out only to realize your steps are shaky.  You’ve been changed.

There’s a song recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys called “Life is Like a Mountain Railway”.  I’ll be short with the lyrics.  But they relate.

Verse 1:
Life is like a mountain railway,
With an engineer that’s brave,
We must make this run successful,
From the cradle to grave.

The chorus is this:
Blessed Savior, thou will guide us,
Till we reach that blissful shore,
Where the angels wait to join us,
In the great forevermore.

There’s a Book in the Bible that parallels this theme.  It’s found in the Book of Ruth.  The entire story can be found in Ruth 1: 1-22.

In Chapter 1, we can get a closer look into the choices and decisions of one family to do what was right in their own eyes.  This family found great suffering and difficulty that lead to important, even critical, decisions.

The very first thing we learn in Chapter 1 is that there was a famine in the land.  Food is scarce.  This is “The First Tragedy”.  These were the people of Bethlehem in Judah.  The word Bethlehem means “house of bread”.  A great irony, isn’t it?  Bread was the main source of nutrition for the people.  We find that Elimelek, the head of one family living in Bethlehem made a choice.  That choice was to leave Bethlehem and go live where there was food to eat.  That was in Moab about 50 miles away.  This land was known as an area where the people worshiped other gods and were immoral.  Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.”

The next “roller coaster hill” approaches and you descend into Grief.  This is “The Second Tragedy”.  Grief came when the decision chosen was to move.  Elimelek chose reason over trust.  Trust in the Lord to provide.  Things just seemed to go from bad to worse.  They went their own way.

The second decision was “To Remain Away from the Lord” and to trust their own understandings.  To live in a land that served other gods and did not serve the Lord Almighty.

And finally, the third choice was made, “Returning to the Lord”.  The story ends with the return of Naomi and Ruth to Bethlehem in Judah.  Naomi lost everything. She lost her two sons.  One of her daughters in law left her to go back to Moab.  Life was hard. But now she returns with her Moabite daughter in law, Ruth, to Bethlehem in Judah.  Her home. Naomi’s decision to return home identifies God’s amazing grace.  Naomi is not alone and empty.  She had Ruth who also returned so that she could care for Naomi.

Chapter 1 ends like this in verse 22, “So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.” The story of Ruth goes from Famine to Grace.  God’s grace touches Naomi’s life.

This end reminds me of pulling finally into the roller coaster station as the ride has come to an end.  You breathe a sigh of relief.  You are home.  There is no more fear.  No more grief that you chose to ride.  What is left is peace and freedom as you disembark from the ride.

Let me encourage you today that there is hope in suffering.  God desires that you return to Him.  You can restart with the Lord.  You can have rest and peace and hope in Jesus Christ.  The road is not easy, and it will require that you leave some things behind.  But I know that the Lord is your co-pilot.  He promises to never leave you, never forsake you.  He wants to meet your every need.  Don’t ride the “coaster of life” without a “riding partner”.  His name is Jesus.  Will you respond by returning to the Lord today?  If you have never met your “riding partner”, you can right now.  Pray and ask Jesus to come into your life.  Your sins are forgiven but you must ask Him to forgive you and then repent.  Choices that you can make.  If you call on the Name of Jesus, He will hear you and forgive you.  And you will have the hope that you desire.  Will you make this choice today?

Dear friend, my prayer for you this week will be for God to enlighten you to understand that He is with you and He is your everlasting hope.

George

THE JOYFUL SERVANT

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When I was younger, in about seventh grade, I had the opportunity to go on my first mission trip with my youth group. We were only going to Michigan for a week, but it was an opportunity for me to experience what serving was all about. I was very excited because my best friend in the entire world was going on the trip with me. However, in order to pay for the trip, we had to raise funds. To do this, the youth leader arranged several ways for us to serve and raise the necessary funds.

One of the places we had an opportunity to serve was the pancake breakfast at the church on the square in Chardon during the Maple Festival. We would go at 7 am each day, write goofy name tags, tie each other’s aprons and get to work! Our job was to clean the sticky syrup off tables and trays and make the space ready for the next group of hungry guests. Sure, it sounds like it was boring work, but I had so much fun serving, especially alongside my best friend! We managed to raise enough funds and had an amazing week in Michigan serving with non-profit organizations!

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As the next year came around, me and my best friend signed up to serve at the pancake breakfast again. This time, we weren’t raising funds for anything, we just enjoyed serving so much together that we decided to do it again! And again, the year after that! We continued to do this throughout our high school career until we graduated and moved away to college. I will never forget the joy that I felt after serving. It was such a joyful opportunity to serve families that wanted to have a good breakfast before enjoying the Maple Festival.

As followers of Jesus Christ, serving is a very important job we each have. Yes, I said each. When we allow ourselves to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit, we quickly realize that we are given certain spiritual gifts that contribute to the body of Christ. Everyone’s gifting will be different. Some are called to stand in the pulpit and teach the Word. Others are called to play or sing on a worship team, serve as an usher, or work in children’s ministry.

If we are given gifts but try to live our lives using them for something other than the glory of God, we will often find ourselves unhappy and unfulfilled. Here’s a personal example. . . as many of you may know, I just spent the last four months in India. Because I flew there on January 1st, I had started my New Year’s Resolutions there. One of my resolutions was to write on my personal blog site at least twice a month, especially about my time in India.

As I started doing this, I noticed how many viewers I got. I noticed the number of followers increased. I had more viewers in one month than I did the previous year. This spurred the idea of writing more and doing more to gain more viewers, so I could influence more people and gain more followers. I mean, it’s not a bad goal to want to be a sensational internet blogger that many people know about, that is, unless it’s out of pride and to glorify one’s self.

Now, if any of you have known me for any length of time, you know that I love to write and have been since 2012. But, I have recognized it is a gift. One of my favorite subjects to blog about are the blogs I write for PAG as well as the devotionals I write for my own blog; no matter how many viewers those blogs get. Why? Because they are to glorify God, edify the Church, and not myself. They are to allow the Holy Spirit to use my God-given gift to glorify Jesus, not me. When I write for the Lord, it’s not me writing, it’s the Holy Spirit through me.

At the end of my trip, I stopped blogging. I stopped sharing what was happening and what God had been teaching me. The thought of trying to find time to sit down and reflect on what was happening in my life exhausted me. Therefore, I stopped using the gift. In fact, this is the first blog I have written in months (yes, that means I am failing at my New Year’s Resolution!). However, as I write this blog, my heart is overflowing with joy because I am using the gift that God has given me to glorify HIM and build up His Church! This is one of my outlets for serving.

Let me ask you: where are you serving? Where are you actively using the gifts given by the Holy Spirit to glorify God and build up your brothers and sisters in Christ? I know you may be saying, “well, I just don’t have the time”. But, Jesus didn’t say that when He died on the cross for you, did He? I want to encourage you to listen to Pastor Aaron’s sermon: “You are Called to Serve” in the sermon series “Live Your Calling”. Be open and allow the Holy Spirit to show you where you can plug in at PAG or the community around you and begin being an active servant in the Body of Christ.

Remember, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”– Galatians 5.13

Jenny Bushnell

Check out the podcast, “Called To Serve” here!
http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=27

Called To Become

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What is the goal of your life? Have you ever given that much thought? Pause for a moment and contemplate…

The goal of this life for the believer should not be getting to Heaven. Heaven is our destination! Our goal should be to become more like Jesus! In the sermon series, Live Your Calling, we are exploring how we have been called by God according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

God is calling us to become like Christ.

I have asked God consistently to help me become more like Jesus. I desire the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know Him better. (Ephesians 1:17) He is faithful to answer this prayer!

Even though the Bible is complete, the God of the universe is still writing our stories. In 2 Corinthians 3, we read that we are “a letter from Christ, known and read by everyone; written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” Yes, your life is a letter… a story, and Jesus is the Author. (Hebrews 12:2) He is intimately involved in writing the details; orchestrating our circumstances every day to draw us closer to Himself and into the purposes that He created for us before time began!

Let’s look at the five principles to becoming like Christ that we heard about in Sunday’s message.

* Simplify my Life

Hebrews 12:1 says, “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.”

In 2013, the movie, Frozen, hit the big screen. My daughter, Faith, had just turned 3, and she loved it! She received a beautiful Elsa dress for Christmas that year. It had a button built into the fabric, and every time she pushed that little button, “Let it go, let it go! Can’t hold it back anymore. Let it go, let it go! Turn away and slam the door…” would resound from that dress, resound from my daughter, and resound from God. He speaks in many ways! J “Let it go” became my prophetic theme song in 2013 for a lot of things. It was time to deal with the weights that were slowing me down and the sin that was tripping me up.

What things are hindering you from living your calling?

*Don’t get Impatient or in a Hurry

This has definitely been a challenge! I must remind myself that becoming like Jesus is a lifelong process. It’s a marathon, not a sprint! Most of us hate to wait! We hate waiting in the check-out line, waiting for the light to turn green, waiting for the coffee to brew, waiting for that important phone call or text, and especially waiting on God to move on our behalf! “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7) requires much humility! If there is one thing that I have heard consistently from God over the last few years, it’s, “Trust My Process”! I am in the process of learning to stop regularly to surrender to God in trust and accept His rhythm for my life. Ask Him to show you how you can do this, too.

*Spend Time Focusing on Jesus Every Day

The 19th-Century English poet, William Blake, wrote, “You become what you behold.” What is your primary focus each day? What or who do you think about most? What do you look at, read, listen to, talk about most of the time?  Neurological research shows that the more often we think about something (a specific thought), the more often that thought travels along the same neurological pathway. Eventually, that pathway gets deeply ingrained in the brain. The result is that the more often we think something, the more it will affect our thinking, how we feel, and how we behave.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18 it says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” We can be mirrors that reflect the Lord’s glory! To fix our gaze on Him, and behold Him, and think about Him, and put Him before us again and again is the key to becoming like Him. Let us ask Him for unveiled, face-to-face encounters!

*Gather a Team to Run with Me

We were not created to run this marathon of faith by ourselves. We need others in our lives to spur us on toward love and good deeds. Consider the fellow saints of the early church. They “devoted themselves” to teaching, fellowship, communion, and prayer. (Acts 2:42-47) They were committed to sharpening each other and doing life together. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) When two iron blades are rubbed together; the edges become sharper, which makes the knives more effective in their purpose. When we spend time with other brothers and sisters in Christ, exhorting, encouraging, praying, and hiding God’s word in our hearts, we become sharper, more effective in the calling the Lord has assigned to our lives.

Who are your teammates during this season of life? If you don’t have anyone to run alongside you, ask God to send just the right person into your life.

*Realize What I Don’t Finish, God Will

I recently attended the funeral of dear friend. The reverend who preached her eulogy related life to a race, but he used the analogy of a relay race. A relay racer carries a baton, which he or she passes onto the next runner. There is a short period of time, right before the hand off of the baton, that the runners are running side-by-side. For believers the baton is the Gospel, and we are running for the glory of God. As others run alongside us, may we be faithful to pass the baton onto the next generation. We can be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) We can be confident that whatever God starts, He will finish.

Remember that becoming like Jesus is a lifelong process. He is always working and orchestrating the circumstances of our lives to transform us into His likeness with ever increasing glory. Keep running with endurance, my friend! He is waiting for us on the other side of the finish line!

~Jenny Gallion

You can check out Sunday’s podcast here! http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=27

LEARNING HONOR

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When you hear the word “honor”, what images come to mind? I tend to get images of a king dressed in gold garments, surrounded by a host of servants. Maybe your mind thinks of the fifth commandment that says: “honor your father and mother”. What does honor look like to you? This is something I have seen acted out and shown in many ways as I have been studying abroad in India for the past 3 months.

One of the biggest efforts of honor shown among this culture is how students, even children, respond to their elders, professors, and parents. It is instilled in them from an early age to call their elders “Ma’am” and “Sir”. It is with utmost respect that they show honor to these very important people in their lives. Also, there are extreme standards that are applied to the family unit and in the classroom. For example, students must come dressed in proper attire, they can’t eat in class, and sometimes they can’t even cross their legs. This is to show that they are honoring and giving full attention and respect to the professor, parent, or elder.

I have also personally experienced receiving honor here in India. I have two internships. For the first, I teach life skills to students at a community college. Each morning they have a devotion time where my supervisor shares a scripture along with a message. During this time, I sit in a plastic chair in the back of the room. When this time is over, I always attempt to pick up my chair and stack it on top of the other plastic chairs, but it never fails where one of the students will immediately come and take the chair out of my hands, telling me ‘no’. They do this because they see it as their job to make sure I, the teacher, do not have to do too much work.

In my second placement, I spend long hours in the villages of an indigenous tribal group. The people of the villages are not used to getting visits from foreigners. Usually, when they have visitors, the visitors will sit on a mat or even just the ground. Many times, I have tried to do this, but after a minute of sitting on the ground, someone from the village brings a chair for me to sit on. Feeling obligated, because they went to the extreme measures to find a chair for me, I always sit in the chair while the rest of my fieldwork team sits on the ground.

At first, I struggled with these great efforts to show honor. However, after about a month, I realized there was nothing I could do about it. There were times where it would go so far as someone carrying my umbrella to keep me shaded, or even paying for my meals when I already had my cash out, ready to pay. I have come to grips realizing that this is a huge part of the Indian culture and I would just need to embrace their way of life.

As I reflect on this culture’s importance of honor, it reminds me that we too, are supposed to show honor. We are called, as followers of Christ, to show honor to one another, His delegated authority, and more importantly, God Himself. The act of showing honor can seem like such a big event or difficult task to achieve, but we can do so by being obedient to God, putting Him before anything else, and respecting the laws and principles He’s established. Why? Because as you’ll hear in this week’s podcast, honor and faith (or belief) are tied together and directly relate to whether Jesus can do miracles in our midst. You won’t want to miss this life-changing teaching: http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=25

If we want to be a people who are exponentially growing individually, and as a church, we must embrace a culture of honor. As a church, we need to do so in unity. Be prepared to learn how you can integrate these two practices into your life and the Church!

Jenny Bushnell

Oh Lord, Hear My Prayer

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This week I have experienced a greater understanding of my walk with the Lord.  I’ve been driven to my knees in prayer.  I’ve had periods of great tears and my life has become more real regarding my love for Jesus.  It’s hard for me to describe this kind of change in me except to say that I’m learning what true submission is.  I say “learning” because submission has many steps.  I fought with this over and over again because God created in me a desire to lead.  He made me that way for His purpose, but many times I try to take over.  I want to “help” God.  This past week, I reached a place of submission that has taken me to the foot of The Cross.

I’m not trying to be super-spiritual.  That’s what happened.  Why this week?  I think it’s because recently, during the Sunday services at our church, the presence of the Holy Spirit has been overwhelming due to the deliberate attention that’s been given to the command to submit.  Our Pastors have brought messages from God that deal with submission and repentance that we, as the Body of Christ, need to hear.  Many times I think when we’re called to the altar of repentance, we’re reluctant.  Bearing our hearts to the Lord is hard.  It makes us vulnerable.  We display we need help.  For me, that is hard.  But I am so thankful for the time in repentant prayer.

The Bible makes reference to repentance 78 times.  It seems to be pretty important.  The Father’s desire from the beginning of time has been to spend eternity with us.  For us to always be with Him.  That has not changed… we have changed.  Sin separates us from Him.  We become sick when sin fills our hearts.  Jesus said this, “Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32 (NKJV) I remember what people said to me when I caught the flu a few months ago.  It was contagious and when people asked how I was, I had to tell them that I was sick.  Their response many times was, “Stay away from me.  Don’t come near to me.  I don’t want to catch it.”  Isn’t this what happens when we have unrepentant sin in our heart?  God is saying, “I love you.  I desire for you to be with Me.  But I can’t come near you.”

So, going back to the last few days, my life has been changed.  It’s been challenged certainly, but also changed.  Submission is work.  But it’s a necessary work if we want to be able to go to new levels of love in Jesus.  My desire since the day I accepted Jesus was to walk with Him and honor Him with my life.  Submission in necessary.  When we fight submission, the world’s view takes over.  The enemy will use our reluctance to submit against us.  The enemy did that with me.  I must submit to the will of God and His purposes each day.  Each day I pray “…a little less of me and a lot more of You”.

Jesus said,” For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 (NKJV) You see, Jesus came and ministered on this earth, was beaten and crucified, died and buried, arose from the grave, so that we could be with Him.  He came for the lost.  All of us.

And Praise the Lord for this promise: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3 (NKJV)

Where does it start?  Submission and repentance for the sin in our hearts.  Submission starts with a life of prayer, and yes, even times of fasting.  Fasting places me in another place of submission.  It says for me that “I place all things under submission so that my relationship with You, Jesus, is of utmost of importance”.  I need to set aside time each day… seeking the Lord, submitting my heart, praying and fasting.  It’s an ingredient for a growing relationship with Jesus.  And I think that what I have been witnessing in my church is, it’s an ingredient for a growing Church.

Friend, prayer and submission to the Lord leads to repentance.  Repentance leads to a greater relationship with the Lord.  A greater relationship with the Lord will lead to a place where God can fulfill His purpose in you.  This is what the Apostle Paul said, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13 (NKJV)

Click on the podcast link to hear a powerful message on the “5 Ingredients for a Growing Church, Part 1” – http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=25

May the Lord richly bless you! I pray that you will desire a greater relationship with God.  I believe that there are powerful steps we can take to begin to prepare the way for what the Lord desires to do in your life and in His Church!

George

REND YOUR HEARTS

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Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.

Joel 2:13

As I spent time weeping at the altar, after hearing such powerful truth proclaimed on Sunday (you can check it out here: http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=23), the Holy Spirit brought this verse to my mind. I have spent much of today chewing on it.

The test of true repentance is what you tear.

In the Old Testament we can read about how people tore their clothes as a sign of repentance and then put on rags called sackcloth. But the One who looks at our hearts isn’t satisfied with external rituals. Joel told God’s people to tear their hearts and not their clothing because tearing our clothes doesn’t hurt or bring lasting transformation.

In order for true revival to come, our hearts must be broken over our sin.

Nearly a decade ago, I read an amazing little book entitled, Calvary Road, by Roy Hession, a post-WWII evangelist in England, who knew he had lost the power of the Spirit in his life, and, in 1947, met leaders of the East African Church which was experiencing revival. It was then that he recognized his deep personal need.

He says it like this, “Revival is just the life of the Lord Jesus poured into human hearts.”

But before this can happen, our proud, unyielding self must be broken. “So often self tries to live the Christian life, and as long as self is in control, God can do very little with us.”

Self is most certainly a hindrance for revival.

Before I left the sanctuary on Sunday, I sat with my journal for a moment as I sensed the Holy Spirit wanting me to write some things down. This is from my personal journal, so I know it was for me. You can decide if it’s for you, as well.

You’re asking for a “fresh outpouring”, but you’re still full of yourself. Remember what you heard today… “You must have your own Calvary before you can have your Pentecost.”

Rend your heart and not your garments. Let Me “tear the fabric” of your heart and come to you… cleanse you and heal you. I desire to leave “nothing left unshaken”.

If you hunger for more of Me, I will come to you and make My home in you. Do you have room for Me?

You often pray… “Break my heart for what breaks Yours”, but do you really desire what you’re asking for?

What breaks My heart is your sin. It’s time to repent. Come away with Me, My Beloved, and let Me fill you with Myself.

“The only life that pleases God and that can be victorious is His life – never our life, no matter how hard we try. But inasmuch as our self-centered life is the exact opposite of His, we can never be filled with His life unless we are prepared for God to bring our life constantly to death. And in that we must co-operate by our moral choice.” ~ Hession

Consider your heart as an empty cup. Jesus, the Living Water, looks into your cup, and if it is clean, He will fill it to overflowing with Himself. This is revival. This is what our world needs.

Hession says, “Only one thing prevents Jesus from filling our cups as He passes by, and this is sin in one of its thousand forms. The Lord Jesus does not fill dirty cups. Anything that springs from self, however small it may be, is sin…But all of them were put into that other cup, which the Lord Jesus… drank to the dregs at Calvary – the cup of our sins. And if we will allow Him to show us what is in our cups and then give it to Him, He will cleanse them in the precious blood that still flows for sin.”

There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

~William Cowper, 1771

Come to the fountain and let Jesus cleanse you from all that keeps you from abiding with Him. He wants to be your ALL!

Jesus longs to fill us with His Spirit through our brokenness, repentance, and confession. Even sin we cannot see is made visible when we come before the One who loves us most. He’s waiting for us to rend our hearts in two, expose and confess our sin, and “return to the Lord your God” emptied of self and ready to BE FILLED.

Let Him pour out, fresh and anew, more of Himself into your hungry heart. May we, like David, be able to proclaim, “My cup runneth over!” (Psalm 23:5)

We need a fresh outpouring, Lord!

Yes… Let revival come, and let it begin with me!

~Jenny Gallion