I teach in a public school. I am not allowed to preach to or pray with my students. But there is no law against ministering to teachers, custodians, parents, and other adults in the building. So, I pray, counsel, share the Word of God, and have spiritual conversations with adults, all in my public school classroom, room 103.
I have seen several healings, and answered prayer in room 103. I have renamed room 103 as the Chapel at 103.
I shop at Aldi’s Grocery Store. My last two shopping trips have been divine encounters. I was behind a woman who had left her debit card at home. I offered to pay for her groceries. After a lengthy give-and-take dialogue, she agreed.
God had opened the door for me to share Jesus with this woman. She shared information about her life, her family, and to my surprise, the fact that the food I had purchased was her dinner for that evening (she had no other food in her house). I left there knowing that God had given me the privilege of being used by Him.
On the very next trip to Aldi’s I encountered an elderly lady who was struggling to pull out a shopping cart. As I helped her, I received a “Thank you, honey”, to which I responded, “You’re welcome. God bless you.”
“I could really use a blessing right now.” Well, I immediately sensed this response as my opportunity to bring Jesus into this conversation.
This dear lady shared that she had a decision to make and she needed help making the right decision. I told her of God’s promise to give wisdom if we ask Him. So she let me pray with her — right there on the sidewalk in front of the store!
God used me twice in a row at Aldi’s. Guess what I will expect on my next trip to this store? I will be looking for an opportunity to witness for Christ. Yes, it’s time to rename the store Aldi’s Temple.
If we belong to Jesus Christ, we are the Church. So everywhere we go should become a holy place. The Holy Spirit lives inside us, so we should be consciously inviting Him to move through our environments with His love and power.
I’m learning to anticipate that God will move everywhere I go. As I grow in this boldness and expectation, I believe I will see opportunities I had not noticed before.
Perhaps I can rename more of the places I frequent: Dollar Tree of Life Cathedral, J.C.Penney Tabernacle, and maybe even Burger King of Kings Fellowship.
I received these words in my prayer time on September 1, 2010. I feel that now is the time to share it with you.
“There is no gravity on this level. Everything you need will come to you. You need not strive after it, beg for it, long for it, or even reach for it. It will come to the place where you are — the place I set you — the place I deliver to you your tools, your message, and your assignment.
Open your hands and receive. Open your mouth and I will discharge My words. You need not press for words of your own. Did I not say My Spirit will give you what to say?
You need only set yourself apart into a quiet place with Me. You will receive directly from Me. I will educate you. Your face will radiate My light. Your hands will carry My healing touch. I am with you, in you, and working through you.
Let Me burn through you, purge you, purify you. You will be transparent as glass, revealing My heart to the world. They will see only Me. They will hear only My comforting, healing words of deliverance. Their response will be not to you, but to Me.
As you are a part in Me, everything that is Mine is available to you, and all that I send to you is close to you, even within your grasp.”
Several years ago, my son Brandon came home from second grade with the idea of making a bird feeder. You know the kind — a plastic milk jug with a big square cut out of the front.
After we worked together on its construction, Brandon decorated it and tied twine around the top. Then he ushered me out to the pear tree in the back yard and pointed to his chosen branch.
Just as I tied the final knot, Brandon yelled, “Wait, Mommy, we forgot to fill it!” Oh yeah, without the birdseed the feeder is useless. It’s just a pretty, but worthless decoration, obstructing the birds’ view of the real food in the tree.
As I recently thought about our project, I heard a whisper in my mind, Beverly, you’re a bird feeder. A what? Lord, where is this going? I wondered. God, in His wisdom, would show me through His Word what He meant.
Before it became a bird feeder our jug was used for something else. It had to be emptied out and cleaned before beginning the process of becoming what we wanted it to be. Likewise, as we repent of our sins and allow Jesus to wash them away with His cleansing blood we start on our way to becoming the instrument God wants us to be.
Just as the jug could not clean itself, neither can we. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).
Now the cutting begins. The process of cutting the jug is a tedious one because sometimes the jug moves and extraneous cuts can occur. As God “cuts” us He is pruning and molding us. It is crucial that we stand still during the cutting phase.
Often God allows circumstances or brings people into our lives to aid in the cutting process. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). Our battles, conflicts, and confrontations are often used to show us our own faults and prompt us to allow God to take them out of our lives.
After the jug has been fashioned into a bird feeder, it is time to decorate it. Unlike the decorations of pictures, buttons, and pasta shells we put on the outside of the jug, the ornaments of the child of God should come from within. “Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:4).
It is time to place our new bird feeder where it can be useful. First we use twine to connect it to the branch. The connection is important because without it the bird feeder will fall.
Isn’t that true in our walk with the Lord? “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me” (John 15:4). We must stay connected to the Lord in order to be used in His service.
The final act in completing the bird feeder is filling it. Our Lord wants to fill us so we can be useful for His purpose. Just as putting marbles in the bird feeder would cause injury to the birds, so being filled with the wrong “food” will cause harm to those we wish to nurture.
Rather than trying to figure out what to feed on, let’s just eat what Jesus eats. “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). Doing God’s will fills us with all we need to nourish ourselves and be a benefit to others.
It is God’s will that we study His Word, pray, and obey Him. He has promised to fill us with His Spirit and equip us for His service. Just as the bird feeder serves a special purpose if it is properly filled, so we, as instruments of the Lord’s work, will be vessels of honor for Him.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
“My eyeballs are clogging up my faith canal and causing me to choke!” This sounds strange, but I said that to myself yesterday afternoon as I evaluated my thoughts.
I had almost gotten overwhelmed with the problems I saw before me. I almost short-circuited from all the directions I was going in at the same time. I almost quit everything. Then I remembered what God said.
“For we walk by faith, and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Oh yeah, I know that. I mean, I know the words. Now suddenly I was experiencing the Word — the revealed Word — unfolding in my practical life.
My attention to the occurences in my physical environment was darkening my faith. I had allowed my vision to be disrupted by the circumstances which had appeared in my life.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8). Walking by faith, truly walking by faith means expecting God to lead.
God is not my co-pilot. I am not His co-pilot. He is driving and I am in the back seat safely submitted to His direction and His sovereign will for my life.
A dear friend of mine spoke these words to me as she sensed my struggle. “All He wants is a yes“. She didn’t know how profoundly her simple statement affected my outlook.
He only wants a yes. I don’t have to perform or excel beyond my ability. I don’t have to open doors or create my own opportunities. God will direct my path. With my eyes re-focussed on Jesus I can relax.
Whew…peace is a good feeling. Now I can concentrate on listening….
Contraband — goods or merchandise imported or exported contrary to law; smuggled goods.
When we enter a country’s borders, we or our luggage can be searched for contraband. If we are carrying illegal items, our possessions will be confiscated and we will be arrested.
Every jurisdiction has standards for identifying contraband illegally entering its borders. Contraband is usually described as destructive to the citizens or the environment, not approved as contributing to the welfare of the citizens, or otherwise forbidden by law. For example, illegal drugs, weapons, or explosives would be considered contraband in most nations.
God has equipped us with an amazing structure for holding our possessions. It is called the mind. It was uniquely designed for discovery, invention, judgment, inquiry, and to interpret the signals from our environment.
Quite frequently contraband thoughts invade our minds and clog up the passage of knowledge, wisdom, peace, joy, and success. These thoughts include (but are not limited to) fear, hatred, pride, unbelief, lust, unforgiveness, and a myriad of other ungodly thoughts.
I call these thoughts “contraband” because they illegally enter our minds. The only person with authority to make policy over His creation is its Creator. Any items that are not approved by the policy-maker are deemed illegal.
Where do contraband thoughts come from? The devil can smuggle ungodly thoughts into our minds, like he tried to give Jesus when he tempted Him three times in the wilderness (Matthew 4:3,6,9). The most common culprit in bringing illegal thoughts into our minds is our own set of self-directed desires.
“Don’t blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and He doesn’t use evil to tempt others. We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead.” (James 1:13-15 Contemporary English Version).
How then, can we keep contraband thoughts from being unleashed in our minds? We choose to control them! God has given us the ability to sift through the thoughts that enter our minds and decide which ones to entertain.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
We have a choice. We can commit to meditating on thoughts that bring us closer to God, or we can grasp contraband thoughts that have been illegally inserted into our minds. We will truly be rewarded in this life and in eternity as we adhere to God’s standard for a legal thought life.
“Finally my friends, keep your minds on what is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8).