Initiate Your Miracle

Did you realize that there are times in life where you can initiate your own miracle? We can see in Scripture that there were times in certain peoples’ lives, where they actually initiated their own miracle. I am not saying that a person has any power within themselves to bring about a miracle. I am saying that a person can initiate a miracle from God in their life. Let me give you a couple examples from Scripture.

We all know the event of Peter walking on the water. Did you realize that Jesus did not initiate the miracle of Peter walking on the water? Jesus is the one who performed the miracle, but it was Peter who initiated it. Jesus didn’t walk up to the boat and call Peter out on the water. Peter asked Jesus to call him out on the water. If Peter had not asked Jesus to call him to come to him, that miracle would have never taken place and would not be recorded in Scripture. It was Jesus who performed the miracle, but it was Peter who initiated it.

The woman with the chronic bleeding for twelve years that the doctors were not able to help with, but only grew worse, initiated her own healing. Jesus didn’t say a word to her or even lay hands on her before experiencing her healing. She believed that she would be healed if she simply touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. She acted on faith and was healed. In both of these cases, they initiated their own healing. The power of the Spirit operating through Jesus’ life is what brought about their miracle, but it was they who initiated it.

It is also interesting to note that fear accompanied both miracles. For Peter it was after he began walking on the water and looked down at the waves (probably even some before) and for the woman it was after when she came to Jesus trembling with fear because he was asking who touched him (Mark 5:33).

Fear is an enemy of faith, but it will also accompany faith. It’s the human side of us. The problem is not having a sense of fear, but responding to the fear rather than acting in faith. So we have a choice, respond in fear or act in faith. Acting in faith requires a risk. I have stated many times that faith is spelled R.I.S.K. It’s only a risk because the place you would be stepping is a place of uncertainty and in the natural will not support you. Luci Swindoll (Chuck Swindoll’s sister), said something many years ago that I will never forget, “God offers us security through risk, but we want safety through certainty”. If we base our decisions in life off of safety and certainty, we will miss the miracle that God has for us because we are not willing to take the risk.

Similarly, I have left my secure, good paying career with Cabelas to take on a new job that was temporary. That job has now ended (three months earlier than expected). It was a risk to leave my job, but I know that it is the path to get to where the Lord is leading me. The miracle is coming. In the meantime, there are some things that I am prayerfully moving forward with, trusting the Lord to direct my steps and open doors that only he can open.

So what is the miracle you need from God? Prayerfully consider steps that you can take to initiate it.

Moving toward a miracle,

Ron Armstrong

Becoming Hope-Full

On Paul’s trip to Rome to stand trial before Caesar, the ship runs into a violent storm. As the storm continues for many days, Luke says, “we finally gave up all hope of being saved” (Acts 27:20). Have you ever felt that way concerning a situation in your own life? Have you ever come to a place in your life where you “finally gave up all hope”? Maybe you have given up all hope of being healed. Maybe you have given up all hope of God’s promise being fulfilled in your life. Maybe you have given up all hope of your marriage turning around. Maybe you have given up all hope of that door opening that you’ve been waiting for, for so long. Sometimes we come to a place in our lives where we just want to give up all hope concerning that one area of our lives that we want to see a change. After all, hope breeds expectation and sometimes expectation leads to disappointment. A series of disappointments or a long season of no answers, can lead to “finally giving up all hope”. At least we often feel that way when our hopes continue to go unfulfilled.

Maybe Paul was one of the “we” that Luke is referring to, who momentarily gave up all hope of being saved, at least until the angel visited him. At times, we all lose hope concerning certain situations in our lives. It doesn’t always mean a lack of faith or trust in the Lord. It may just mean accepting God’s will for our lives. It wasn’t until after that angelic visit that Paul told those sailing with him, “So keep up your courage men, for I have faith in God it will happen just as he told me” (Acts 27:25). That’s a faith that’s full of hope. It’s faith in God that makes us hope-full.

What do we do when we reach that place of “finally giving up all hope”, when there no longer seems to be any light at the end of our tunnel? I have been taking Proverbs 3:5 and 6 to a whole new level – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path”. What does that mean? How do we do that? I see acknowledging the Lord in all our ways the evidence of trusting in the Lord will all our heart and not leaning on our own understanding. Here is how I have been doing that. I have been acknowledging the Lord in all my ways by thanking and praising him right where I am at, for where he has me and what he is doing in my life. I have also been sharing Jesus in our daily meetings at work with the employees that are there. I have had opportunities to share Jesus with people one on one, but lately I have been sharing Jesus in group settings as well. Acknowledging the Lord in all our ways is evidence of trusting him with all our hearts and keeps us from leaning on our own understanding. The end result is that God will direct our path in life. He will open the doors, bring about the miracle, heal your hurt and direct your life.
What is it that you are hoping for? Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…how?… by acknowledging him in all your ways and then he will direct your path and fulfill the hope of your heart. That’s a faith that’s hope-full.

Satan’s Shadow of Doubt

Here’s a question for you: Why did the serpent (Satan) go to Eve with the question, “Did God really say…?” We know that Adam was with her, but it was Eve that Satan directly approached with that question. Why didn’t he approach Adam with that question instead? If you have ever heard me speak on this passage, you know my answer to that question. The reason Satan went to Eve instead of Adam and asked, “Did God really say…?” is because Eve didn’t really hear God say… She didn’t hear God speak those exact words. Only Adam did. When God spoke those words and gave that warning it was to Adam alone because Eve had not yet been created (See Gen. 2). That is why Satan didn’t approach Adam with that question, because he knew Eve would be more vulnerable to his temptation of doubting God’s word to them. That means that Adam needed to be the spiritual leader in their relationship and run interference between Satan and Eve.

There is one of several important principles here. It is the man’s responsibility to pass along spiritual truths and teachings to his family and hold them accountable to it. That is how Eve even knew what God had said, not because God told her, but because Adam had told her. No, that doesn’t alleviate a wife or children of their own spiritual responsibility. It does mean it is the man’s responsibility to hold his family accountable to God’s Word. Adam was present with Eve. He could have interrupted the conversation and told the serpent ‘no’ because he knew God’s word on it, but he didn’t. That isn’t to say that a wife or children aren’t responsible for their own spiritual life, but that the man needs to hold his wife and family accountable to God’s Word. Sure, each person is accountable for their own actions, but the man of the family needs to warn and teach his family when the opportunity arises, as it did for Adam. Men, be aware of the times that Satan tries to undermine God’s Word in the life of your family. Don’t just overlook it, thinking that it will go away or work itself out in the life of your family member. Encourage, warn and teach as needed.

Lastly, let me say this. Satan will attempt to get you to doubt God’s Word in your life. He will attempt to get you to doubt God’s warnings to your life and he will attempt to get you to doubt God’s promises for your life. Don’t allow Satan to cast a shadow of doubt upon God’s word to you. Heed God’s warnings and hold on to his promises. “Did God really say…?” Yes He did – hold on to that!!!

The Modern Day Nazarite

The word Nazarite actually signifies separation and consecration. It was an Old Testament practice, but is also witnessed in the New Testament as well. It was a vow taken by an individual for either a lifetime or for a season of time. Some Nazarites were appointed by God himself, such as Samson or John the Baptist from birth, but for the most part, was a free will decision by the Israelite themself. A Nazarite was an Israelite who took a vow to separate from the world and devote him or herself to the Lord in greater measure. That vow consisted of separating themselves from the world by abstaining from certain practices, including not drinking alcohol, not cutting their hair and not going near a dead body.

The Nazarite lived a different lifestyle than other Israelites. They did not engage in certain things that were permissible for other Israelites. It wasn’t a self-righteous decision. It was a self-deprivation decision.
What was the purpose of such separation? Why did God call certain individuals to such separation and dedication? There was a certain anointing, empowerment or calling that accompanied the Nazarite vow. For John the Baptist, it was to prepare the way for the Lord. For Samson, it was an empowerment to deliver the Israelites from Philistine oppression.
My question is: Where is the modern day Nazarite? Where is the person who will take a vow of separation from this world and dedicate themselves in greater measure to God and his purposes? God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Included in diligently seeking the Lord is decisively separating from the world. Diligently seeking requires decisively separating. What is it that God is calling you to separate from? For me it was the decision not to drink (never have, never will), not to listen to secular music (a decision I made in my teenage years), not to watch “R” rated movies (or some PG-13 for that matter), to name a few. I don’t mention those things to brag in any way. I mention them so that others will follow my example of separation.
It grieves my heart to see such compromise in the church and the lives of Christians today. Some things are not a matter of sin as much as they are a matter of separation. Those things may not affect your salvation, but they will affect the anointing God will place on your life and the degree to which he will use you for his purposes. It’s not a matter of being good enough for God to use you. It’s a matter of “cleansing yourself from ignoble purposes” and becoming an “instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Tim. 2:20-22). Being prepared to do any good work that God will call you to will require cleansing yourself from ignoble purposes and living a holy life. Just because it’s popular among your generation (even in the church) doesn’t make it right or even a wise decision. Make the decision to stand out among your generation. Make the decision to be a leader of separation and dedication in your generation and not a follower of what’s accepted. I’ve said it before and I will say it again and again – Christianity isn’t a matter of living as close to the world with God’s permission, it’s living a life of separation from the world in dedication of your life to God.
God has a plan that includes an anointing for my life and requires a greater level of separation and sacrifice; that requires living as a modern day Nazarite. How about you? What is God calling you to separate yourself from in dedication of yourself and service to Him? The choice is yours!

Sidelined For A Season

You may feel that God has taken you out of the game, put you on the sideline, benched you and forgot all about you. I want to take this moment to talk to you about “Sidelined for a Season”.

There are seasons in our lives where God does just that. He takes us from what we would consider to be a fruitful place in our lives and puts us on the bench. It’s not because you’ve done anything wrong. It’s not because you weren’t faithful with where you were at. On the contrary, God is preparing you for something greater. God is preparing the people, the place, the position, and the promotion that he has for your life in order to have a greater influence and to make a greater impact in the lives of others.
Consider Moses who was sidelined for forty years herding sheep in the desert because Moses needed to learn the survival skills of leading God’s sheep, the Israelites in the desert. Consider Joseph who was taken from his family and country, sidelined in prison for years before becoming the governor of Egypt for the saving of many lives. Consider Paul who sidelined in prison, to write two thirds of the New Testament. All of these men God used immensely during and following a season of being sidelined and maybe even feeling useless at the time.
Understand that it is God who puts us in that place. Let me remind you that it was the Holy Spirit that led Jesus into the desert for forty days.
Embrace this season in your life because God is using you, preparing you and will be releasing you for greater things that are yet to come. I know because that is right where I am as well.