Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sensing God

           --Wanda Hartley Butts 1/9/2010

When a person works and says, “God is with me”;

Or when the sick declares, “God knows all about it”;

And people meet difficulties saying, “God is in it”;

or when the  dying  looks up  whispering, “I am His”;

then in communion with that power and goodness

that person is no longer tempest-driven and tossed,

but faces the battle of storm and shadow with courage.


To be in communion with God through Jesus Christ—

Is to know that He is ours and we are His— and

that becomes the victory which overcomes the world.

Such courage is kindled and kept by the eternal Spirit;

So the weakest can dare to stand alone, and live alone,

and die alone, saying, “The miracle is, God is with me.”



Friday, September 21, 2012

That Power That Works

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens:
and thy glory above all the earth;
         (Psalms 108:5 (KJV)

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Sarah overheard the Lord promise Abraham that she would have a son , and she skeptically laughed and asked , “I am old, will I surely have a child?” Then, she heard the Lord ask this question, “Is anything too hard for God?” (Gen. 18:9-14) That question reverberates down through the centuries of time and demands an answer from us. Do we believe that God can do anything, and that nothing is too hard for Him? Romans 10:8 says: The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart. An individual’s mouth expresses his/her faith in God, or lack thereof, by what comes from their heart—their inner core of belief. Our faith in God provides our answer to that age old question.

There is a scene in Matthew 9:27-29, that tells about two blind men who followed Jesus crying:” Son of David, have mercy on us,” Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this,” to which they replied, “Yes, Lord.” “Then, Jesus touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith be it unto you.” What they truly believed in their heart agreed with their mouth and they received their sight. Nothing is too hard for God, but He doesn’t waste his power on unbelieving people. Hebrews 11:6 says: But without faith it isimpossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

In Jeremiah 32:17 Jeremiah began his prayer with these words of faith: "Ye Lord God! behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee," (Jer.32:17). His faith in Almighty God delivered the Israelites from their enemies.

Praise: For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich..  (2 Corinthians 8:9 (KJV)

Promise: But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 (KJV)

Prayer: Lord, I believe; help my unbelief (Mark 9:24).  Yes, Lord, help our unbelief so we can believe you in spite of the skepticism we hear expressed around us. Amen


The Dawning

            --Wanda Hartley Butts 9/20/2012


We must not forget that in a busy world,

where God is, we are not lost in the crowd:

individually precious and separately sought,

in the love of Jesus,  we each stand alone.

One by one found, drawn, and humbled

till the day breaks and the shadows flee.


We craved for bread, but were given a stone.

How many a human in that state of distress,

have cast The Word to the winds of heaven?

But, the eunuch still did seek, read, and study

until offered the illuminating light of Christ

and good hope through grace there in the desert.


At that moment when everything seemed vain,

the footsteps of the dawn rode over the hills.


In Defense of Women Ministers


If it is true,(as Galatians 3:28 says) that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female and we are all one in Christ Jesus, how can anyone say that God can't choose whomever He wants to be his minister?

Why do people doubt what God can do? And question what He does? He is Almighty.  The Apostle Peter said that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). If God isn’t a respecter of persons, then He can call anyone to be his minister regardless of race, creed, sex, or station in life. That call once issued is as real, and as mysterious, as the call to salvation is to a believer. How can any other human judge either call?

As to Paul’s advice about women keeping silent in church, it was necessary at the time for the women to be quiet and listen in church. Women in that culture were never permitted an education of any kind, and if they learned anything it was through gossip.  They needed to be still and learn the truth about the gospel from those who knew it first hand (who happened to be males), before they could begin to spread it to anyone else--family, friends or a church. Since then women, who were willing, have learned why Christ did what he did, along with the rest of the men. It is ludicrous to use that instruction (that was necessary at that time), to govern who can serve as ministers. 

Also, the scripture most often used against women ministers is 1 Timothy 2:12 which says: 12But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.  A true minister of the Lord (male or female) does not want to take any authority away from anyone, or teach anyone who doesn’t need it (or doesn’t think they need it). He/she just wants to do what God called them to do—preach the good news of salvation through the grace of God! True ministers aren’t interested in power seeking. The real danger lies… with those people who are afraid of losing their power! Weren’t the Pharisees afraid of losing their power with the people because of Christ and His teachings?

In Romans 16:1-2 the Apostle Paul said to the Roman church; I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:  2That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer (assistant) of many, and of myself also.  The Greek word diakonos which is used here means attendant, and it applies to any pastor, minister, teacher, deacon, or anyone whose focus is on the gospel, and who attends to spreading the good news of free salvation.     

Paul wrote the Roman church (and its leaders who were probably male) and told them to accept Phoebe as a member of God’s family and His servant, and for them to do whatever she ask.  In other words, the Apostle Paul was sending Phoebe (who was prepared to serve ) to the Roman church as a leader to help with  the gospel, so they could spread the good news. Isn’t that what churches are supposed to do? Spread the gospel? Not debate about who gets to do it?

In Acts 2:17 Peter reminded the people (and Luke recorded it) of the Joel 2:28 prophecy: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; And in Acts 21:9 that began to happen. There it says concerning Phillip: And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. The word prophesy comes from profateyoo which means to speak under inspiration or exercise prophetic office.  Phillip was a deacon in the early church, His daughters undoubtedly learned the good news of the grace of God for salvation from their father. Then, the Lord began to inspire and use these women to spread what they had learned.    

The dark days of ignorance are passed. True believers should be more firmly rooted and grounded in Christ now. We should know that He is the way, the truth and the life. Everyone who is firmly planted in Christ should be finding the way to live life through Him and his truth. Christ sent the Holy Spirit to teach understanding of the Word to us, and comfort us with it. Learning God’s Word is a one-on-one experience now. The Israelite people failed to tell the world about God and his grace once. Now God is doing it Himself, just like He said in Jeremiah 31:33: After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.  In light of that, it would be a little hard for any person to preach God’s Word without His help. Truly, the adage is true: the preacher gets preached to first, if he/she sincerely searches the scriptures (like the Bereans), to see if what he/she is hearing is true or not.   

We cannot rip scripture of its context to prove human notions and call it truth.  God is the one who knows the truth and how to reveal its mysteries to us. Isaiah 55:9 (KJV) 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Human interpretation is never going to get what the Word says right. We humans need divine help to understand God.

In the area in which I live, some of the preachers teach their churches that men are meant to be the leaders and women are essentially relegated to home, the kitchen, and the nursery. That kind of preaching promotes the male hierarchy that has ruled the Mideast countries for centuries. Didn’t  Christ take that issue up with Martha when she complained that Mary wasn’t helping her in the kitchen? He told Martha that Mary had chosen the better thing. What did Mary choose? To sit at the feet of Jesus, so she could learn the gospel first hand.  After she learned it, do you think the Savior meant for her to be silent, and not share the good news? If people would pay attention to God’s Word, they would see that God freed women, as well as men, to live by his grace instead of human traditional regulation.  The Word of God credits Aquila and his wife Priscilla with taking another one of the Lord’s servants, Apollos, aside and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.  Priscilla was teaching another minister! Didn’t someone remind her of 1Timothy 2:12?  

Also, God is not above asking a woman to do what he has already laid on a man’s heart. Isn’t that the reason He sent Debra to Barak way back in the OT?  And didn’t she have to stick with Barak every step of the way until the job was finished? People who argue against women in positions of leadership should check it out in the 4th chapter of Judges. It is an interesting read. In verse 4 of the first chapter God describes Debra first a prophetess, second, as the wife of Lapadoth, and third, as a judge in Israel. Sounds like that woman was a leader to me.

Didn’t God entrust the scribes and Pharisees (who were men) with his gospel and didn’t they fail to tell the world about Him? They got hung up on a side issue—the law? Imagine this--they even found it necessary to add several hundred laws to Almighty God’s original Ten Commandments.

Perhaps those men that God has presently entrusted the gospel with, have failed to spread his good news in favor of a social education that appeals more to people.  Maybe God is calling women because He knows they are willing to serve Him and his purpose. Suppose? 

Christ has left us light with which to see. We need to walk in it, rather than this stuff people spout that leave us doubting and questioning God’s Word.