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January 29, 2013

MegaForce is Coming to Batesville AR!


By Tony V. Hammack


Abundant Life Today Media
Abundant Life Today Podcast

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Abundant Life Today Video
 
 
MegaForce, founded by Steve Carrier, Guinness Book of world records holder, is going to be at several of the local elementary, middle, and high schools in Independence County doing assemblies. Steve's assemblies encourage young people to achieve their goals and dreams.  He will also be holding family night meetings at Jubilee Family Church, you don't want to miss these entertaining and powerful presentations!
  • Wednesday, January 30th, 7:00 PM
  • Thursday, January 31st, 7:00 PM
  • Friday, February 1st, 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, February 2nd, 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 3rd, 10:15 AM and 
    • Steve will be performing a special superbowl half time show.  The game will be displayed on our huge HD screen with a 3200 Watt soundsystem.   Kickoff is @ 5:30 PM soup and sandwiches will be served. (Go Ravens)
 

Jubilee Family Church
45 Thunderbird Dr.
Batesville, AR 72501

(870) 793-9124


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January 8, 2013

Filled To Overflowing

By Donna Santini 


I was in a service one morning listening to a pastor deliver a great Sunday message when all of a sudden he stopped and said that he had to be obedient to the Holy Spirit. He began to prophecy and flow in the gifts of the spirit in an awesome way.  Many people were touched that day because of his willingness to be used and his obedience. He said one thing that has really stuck with me over the years. He said, under the unction of the Holy Spirit I believe, that many of us want to be used in the way God was using him but were we willing to invest what he’d invested to get there?

That statement caused me to stop and think but, to be honest, the impact of it didn’t really sink in until this morning, many, many years later. I remember hearing him make that statement and for a brief moment I had to scratch my head and think “Hmmm, would I be willing to invest as much of myself as he has? How hard could it be?”

As Christians, we often get this hyper inflated view of ourselves and our relationship with God. Kind of like the old saying “my eyes were bigger than my belly”. We listen to a message and that momentary feeling of elation causes us to excitedly make the declaration that we’re going to spend all our free time seeking God’s face, in His presence. And like most of us, we start out with good intentions of getting up an hour early to read the bible, to pray several times a day, to put on that soaking tape and just bask in God’s presence. Some people, like an inexperienced runner, start off running full force but then quickly become exhausted. Some, like me, have had grand visions of what I was going to do but never got off of the starting block.

I think you have to approach these or any goals in a realistic way. My biggest downfall was in trying to convince myself that I was going to get up at 4 in the morning to read the bible and pray and maybe fit in a workout session. First of all, I am not a morning person and second, I can’t seem to make myself exercise any time of the day much less at 4 in the morning! I’m like an old automobile that you have to crank start several times to get the motor going and then when it finally starts, you have to let it run a little while before putting it in gear.  So, to set a goal like that for myself was not realistic at all and ultimately set me up for failure. It started off with me hitting the snooze button several times and then finally hitting the off button then as each day progressed, I just stopped setting the alarm for that all together. I never got off the starting block!

I was listening the other day to one of my teaching cd’s and the lady was talking about discipline. I dreaded starting that cd only because as Christians we really have gotten so spiritually and physically lazy in doing the work of God and disciplining ourselves in every area of our lives. I’ve heard, as I’m sure most all of us have, that wise crack about how we’re to “buffet” our bodies not “buffet- as in all you can eat” yet many of us engorge ourselves on the things of this world until we are so full of junk that there’s no room for anything spiritual to survive. One of the things she said made perfect sense. It was one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments. She was talking about how she listened to teaching cd’s, the word of God on cd’s, on a daily basis and had to decide when she could devote the time to doing that. She looked at her schedule and said, “Well, I can put a cd on while I’m getting ready for work and while I’m driving.” That worked out great for her. Her spirit was getting fed every day because she was hearing the word of God.

Why is it that as Christians we’re made to feel like we’re missing the mark if we’re not rising before the chickens? Does God love me any less or think worse of me if I spend time in His word in the evening as opposed to the crack of dawn? I don’t think that is as big of an issue to Him as it is to people who can have a tendency to be a little overly zealous in their religious beliefs and how they think things should be done. I believe God is overjoyed with us when we spend time in His presence, day or night. Do I take time to pray every “morning”, even if it is brief? You bet! Why? Because that is something I can do even when I’m going about my day and I need that personal time with God. I can’t always open the bible and spend an hour in His word any time of the day but I can pray anytime, anywhere, and it brings me to the throne room of my Father. Then, for me, in the evening before I go to bed when I’m not a walking zombie, I can sit down and spend time getting to know my Heavenly Father in an intimate way by reading His word.

A few years back the Lord spoke to me and told me that I needed to remove myself from the things that were keeping me from operating fully in the gifts He’d given me. What all did that encompass? Well, the first thing that came to mind was the physical things; tv, computer, and my new smart phone with all it’s neat gadgets and games. Immediately my flesh went into panic mode.  I don’t watch a whole lot of tv so that didn’t seem too bad but my flesh screamed out “you can’t give up the computer! After all, you do all your work on it and remember that book you started writing, you’ll need it to do any research.”

The iphone was new, uncharted territory. I’d just gotten it for my birthday and at first it was just a phone because, unlike any child born today, I wasn’t born with the “I know how to operate any cellular device ever created even though I’ve never seen it before” gene.  Then my daughter who was born with that gene and who already had one of these high tech devices decided to download a bunch of new apps for me to play with. Well, it didn’t take long for me to find phase 10, spades, family feud, words with friends, draw something, and a host of other games that started consuming the biggest majority of my free time. The sad part is that we really don’t realize just how much time we waste with all of these things that have no eternal value.   Does that mean that we should never watch another tv show, ever get on the computer, or have any cool smart phones? Not at all.  Those things are not bad if done in moderation. They just don’t need to consume us or our time and when God has to tell you that you need to remove yourself from them, you’re probably spending way too much time on them!

As I sat here this morning looking over the prophetic word the Lord had given me a few years back, it suddenly hit me that the physical things aren’t the only things that keep us from operating in the gifts God gives us. He tells me, in this prophetic word, that I try to compare my accomplishments and talents to that of others around me. Even going so far as to tell me to STOP IT! He reminded me then that I am uniquely and wonderfully made just the way the way I am; a diamond in the rough. How many times has that kept me bound and ineffective for God? Let’s get real, there is always going to be someone who is prettier, sings better, and is way more talented then we could ever imagine. Chances are we are never going to be THE absolute best at anything. The moment we start letting that be a deciding factor in our decisions is the moment we cut the power cord of our lives. We will never accomplish anything if we are always comparing ourselves to others. It will leave us feeling totally defeated and unworthy all the time.

The next thing I read was that fear was keeping me from being used in those gifting’s. As God put it, “Fear and feelings of inadequacy had kept me from operating in those gifts to my full potential”. “Why are you fearful?” He asked. “Have I given you a spirit of fear?” 2 Timothy 1:7 says specifically that He has not given us a spirit of fear.  The next statement caused me to really stop and evaluate my heart and motives. “Who is it that you seek to please? Man or Me?” Wow! That hurt a little only because I’d been trying to convince myself that it was all for God but the fear of what other people thought controlled my emotions and actions more than God’s approval. God is not going to force himself on us or make us use the gifts He’s so generously given us. We can toss them by the wayside and never be effective or we can use them to further the kingdom of God. The choice is ours.

His gentleness touched me so much in His next sentence to me. “If you will allow Me, I will use your words and they will be like manna from heaven”. If you will allow Me. Not, “Do what I say or else I’ll smite you.” as we tend to view Him. Like a true shepherd, gently, ever so gently, leading His sheep. The choice was mine to make. Would I allow Him to use me? That would be like a jeweler saying, “If you will allow me, I’ll give you this gorgeous diamond ring”. Hello??!! Who wouldn’t want something like that that is of such great value? What woman wouldn’t love to get a diamond ring? But more on the spiritual aspect of it, why would I not want to allow God to use me in such a powerful way? The “treasure of great value” is in the honor of God even wanting to use me in the first place. What a privilege and honor to have the King of Kings, the great I AM, want to use me! All He asked from me and from all of us is that we are obedient.

What He said to me next has always stuck with me and has changed how I view myself and the gifts He’s given to me. “It doesn’t matter whether every note is perfect or how nervous you were, whether you felt it went badly or was a success. All that matters is that you are obedient to do what I’ve called you to do.” Then there was a promise of what He’d do if I would be obedient to do what He’d called me to do. He finished the word off with this. “Let me use you, flaw and all. I don’t need or ask for perfection. I ask for a willing heart.  I love you my child and desire only the best for you and always have.”

You don’t realize how much pressure that took off of me. All of a sudden I didn’t feel like I had to be perfect. God had made it perfectly clear that regardless of how good or bad I felt it was, He would anoint it. It would be like delicious nectar He said. Good or bad, no need for perfection on my part. All He was asking of me was a willing heart.  How much simpler could He have made it? Be willing, He’ll anoint, and blessings will flow. That was a major turning point in my life when I realized that as long as I was willing, so was He. It set me free from the bondage of fear, inadequacy, and comparing myself to others.

What the enemy wants to do is keep us bound by so many fears that we do nothing to encourage our spiritual growth or that of others. What he wants to hear us say is something I once said out of embarrassment and frustration while operating in God’s gifting’s and that is “I’m never going to do this again!”. God didn’t even miss a beat. He told me “That’s what the enemy wants you to say”.  If the devil can keep us defeated, we will never be a threat to him. The picture God gave me was of a toaster. You can buy a top of the line toaster, put toast in it and push the lever down but if it is not plugged in; it will never do what it was intended to do which is toast the bread. That toast will sit in that toaster until it becomes hard, crusty, and stale.   As Christians, if we’re not plugged into our power source, God, we are no different than that. We can walk around pretty on the outside but powerless on the inside.

God’s proven good on His word to me too. Whether I’ve felt it was good or bad, He’s anointed it and when I took my focus off of what man thinks and to what God thinks, it even changed how I felt about worshipping Him. It was no longer about how well I sang that morning. It was about how much God was rejoicing because I was obedient. No longer do I cringe if I miss a cue or forget the next word, I just inwardly smile and just remind myself that to God it is all good. It is a wonderful fragrance to Him, a soothing aroma, a sweet smelling incense to Him; no matter what WE think of it.

As I sit here rejoicing in the prophetic word my Heavenly Father gave me so many years ago that still pertains to me today and the new revelations that tie in with it, He’s reminding me of the desires of my heart that I truly desire today as much as I did those many years ago when I first heard that pastor say what I was thinking: “Many of us want to be used in the way God was using him but were we willing to invest what he’d invested to get there?”

I’m reminded of the story in Acts 19:11-12 where God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that touched him were taken to the sick and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. And like a kid in a candy store, my eyes glaze over and I begin to drool and I think of just how awesome that would be. To be so filled with the presence of God that people could be healed just by touching me. That would be totally amazing I tell God and then He asks me: “Are you willing to invest what Paul did to get there?” At first I got excited and loudly exclaimed, “Yes! You can count on me God because I want that so badly. I want my life here to count for something more than what it has. I don’t want my life to end and realize that I made no difference in this world. I want to have an eternal impact on people’s lives. I want to be the vessel that you can use to pour out Your glory. I want to walk on water. Well, I say to God, maybe not the last part, I got carried away a little there.”

Immediately, in one thought, the enemy throws every fear, every failure, every broken promise I’ve made to God in my face. I am suddenly hit with that horrible feeling you get when you’re stuck in the pit of despair. He reminds me of the prophetic words God has given me in the past and how I’ve not done them. He reminds me of the exact words that I’ve told God. “I feel like I’m not worthy of Your love at all God, You can’t even trust me to do anything you say.” I remember the tears that fell when I said that. The feeling of total worthlessness and shame I felt when saying that. In one instant that excitement fades because I do remember all the times I’d started out totally excited and ready to run the race and like the story about the tortoise and the hare, I fell asleep at the starting line.

Just as quickly, the Lord reminds me that there is no statute of limitations on Gods word or His promises to us. I’m sitting here feeling shame over my past and God is reminding me that today is a new day and that His promises are new every day. He shows me the things that the enemy has tried to keep me from seeing such as the little things that I’ve done that made a difference to someone and the areas of my life where I have been obedient to Him.

“You are a new creation” He says “fearfully and wonderfully made in My image. You are my child and I love you so much and I want you to know that you are the apple of My eye and I love you more than you could ever fathom. You see your failures. I see your potential. You see a life that’s been wasted. I see a field that’s being prepared for a bumper crop. A field that was so overgrown with the weeds of life that the process of getting it cleared and ready for planting has been a long and tedious process; that is a work still in progress. Underneath the weeds and thorns is a soil so rich and full of nutrients that when the time is right will produce a field of glorious proportions. You see no further than today. I already know your future. I know the great things you will do in my name. If I felt I couldn’t trust you then I wouldn’t require so much from you. I am not a God that I would set you up for failure. I am not one that would lie. My desire is your desire. I so want to fill you to overflowing. How my heart rejoices because I see what you cannot see as of yet. My heart rejoices because I’ve already seen you overflowing! I know what you will become and who you will touch. My child, pay no attention to the enemy who would try to keep you bound by the past mistakes. Remember that the moment you asked for forgiveness it was no more. Why are you crying over things that are not? Rejoice that your name is written in the Lambs book of life my child! Rejoice that you have been given a great destiny and purpose in this life and that not one moment of your life is unredeemable. I rejoice at the mere thought of you. Can you believe that? You said the other day that you couldn’t understand why I loved you so much. You were crying and as your Father, it broke my heart. My love for you isn’t based on how you feel about yourself which is exactly why you said that to me. I see your heart. I see your potential. I see what will be, not what is.

My children perish in part because of a lack of knowledge but they also perish because they choose to believe the lies that the enemy keeps feeding them. They get to feeling so ugly and worthless that they shrink away from my love like Adam did in the garden when he had sinned. They want to hide themselves not realizing that there is no place they can hide from me. I reach out my hand daily to pull my people out of the pits they’ve felt trapped in but so many of them refuse to take it and believe that they are loved with an everlasting love. They refuse to believe that I loved them so much that I was willing to sacrifice my only begotten son to pay for their freedom with His blood. Why can’t they believe that they are treasured so greatly? They’ve been invited to the banquet but they’ve chosen to feast in the gutters. My people need to rise up and proclaim the good news to the captives. My call to my people is will you be my hands and feet? Will you be salt to a tasteless world? Will you be light in the midst of total darkness? Will you go outside your four walls, outside of your little box to make a difference to even one person? All I need is a willing heart. A kind word spoken to someone who is hurting is manna to their soul. Does that mean that I’m requiring every person to go to the ends of the earth to proclaim the gospel? No. But it does mean that we can start right where we are. If you will just open your eyes, you will see that there are many hurting, broken people right where you are. My child, I am calling you to make a difference right where you are, flaws and all. So my question for you is “Are you willing to make the investment to get to where I need you to be?””

As I sit here and ponder the awesomeness of God and that He would even take the time to speak to me, I am almost at a loss for words. You notice I said “almost”. I am a woman, so therefore, hardly ever at a total loss for words! God also gives us a sense of humor.

I have to seriously ask myself that if it truly is my desire to be used by God in a mighty way, am I willing to do what it takes to get there?  Am I willing to invest myself, my time, in God’s word, God’s presence on a daily basis? Am I willing to pour myself into my relationship with my Lord and Savior? Am I willing to lay down my desires, my will, my life, my heart for my King? I have to be willing to empty myself so that God can fill me with Himself.

What comes to mind is what the word of God says about new and old wine skins. No one pours new wine in old wineskins because it will burst the wineskin. It’s the same way with us. His word says that we must decrease so He can increase. That just means that our will and our desires need to be placed at the feet of Jesus so that we can be filled with His will and desires for our lives. A person who is full of the things and desires of this world has no room for kingdom treasures. As the bible says, you cannot serve two masters. You will love one and hate the other. The bible refers to this in the context of God and money but I believe that whatever controls us whether money or some other means has become a master in our lives. What it really boils down to is am I “willing”? Are we as Christians willing? God wants a “willing” heart. Am I willing to allow Him to use me? Am I willing to lay down my life for my Father? Am I willing to be used for God’s purpose, good or bad? Am I willing to step out of my little world to make a difference to a dying and hurting world? Am I willing to invest my time, my life in getting to know my heavenly Father so intimately that I walk around filled to overflowing?  It's a question we all have to ask ourselves.   It starts with obedience and a willing heart.