The Cycle of Life and more…

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The Cycle of Life and more…

“The Cycle of Life” by Gayla Foster.
Reflections Magazine Feature Writer.

The writer of Ecclesiastes made it perfectly clear: there is a time, a season, and a purpose for everything—the good, the bad, the ugly. (See Ecclesiastes 3:1–8.) Just as the earth experiences spring, summer, fall, and winter, our life cycle has its seasons. Much like spring, we emerge into existence out of the darkness, and just as easily as we emerge, we eventually fall back into the cold of winter. It’s called “life cycle.”
The writer of Ecclesiastes made it perfectly clear: there is a time, a season, and a purpose for everything — the good, the bad, the ugly. (See Ecclesiastes 3:1–8.) Just as the earth experiences spring, summer, fall, and winter, our life cycle has its seasons. Much like spring, we emerge into existence out of the darkness, and just as easily as we emerge, we eventually fall back into the cold of winter. It’s called “life cycle.”

From seasons of stretching, where God seems to shape something new in our heart, to times love is tested, to visits by the cruel hand of death, life happens in seasons. There will be those winters when we simply cannot figure it all out; we are cracked and brokenhearted. We endure long nights and our prayers seem to go nowhere. We yearn for the glory of spring, the warmth of summer, the beauty of fall. However, every step and every stumble make us who we are. All the smiles, all the tears, all the big moments, and all the little ones tell our story. We cannot change the seasons, but we can change ourselves. That’s how life gets better: not by chance but by change.

We’ve all lost loved ones we miss dearly, but we must push forward. We look forward to the day we are going to be reunited with those we have lost! That season will come but, until it does, we can’t remain captive to the past. We must let go, move on so we can be productive. It’s impossible to encourage and help anyone in my present if I can’t let go of the past. Embrace and enjoy the current season of life. Don’t live in the future or the past — enjoy the present, the season you are in. It’s the perfect time to reflect on where we find ourselves in life and take necessary actions to correct our course.

Learn how to handle the winters of life; they come immediately after fall. Some are short, others are long; some are difficult, some easy; but they keep coming. We must learn to handle the night: it follows the day. We must learn how to handle difficulty; it comes right after opportunity. We must learn to handle recessions followed by progressions. Reestablish, rebalance, and set course. Don’t wish it easier; search and learn more skills during that time. Take the challenge; gain the wisdom.

Learn how to take advantage of the springs of life. We must get busy planting in the spring or we will be begging in the fall. One of Aesop’s most widely known fables tells the story of the grasshopper that spends all summer dancing and singing. The ant works feverishly, storing food for the winter while the grasshopper merrily sings the day away. When winter arrives, the grasshopper finds itself dying of hunger and begs the ant for food. However, the ant rebukes its idleness and tells it to, “Sing and dance now.” The moral of the story: There is a time to play and a time to work. Life is short. Use your seasons wisely. Take advantage and learn from them.

Learn how to take care of crops planted in the spring. Watch for busy bugs and obnoxious weeds that will rob the crop from you unless you prevent it. Don’t let the intruder take all the good you started! It’s one of life’s challenges. All good will be invaded. To believe otherwise is naïve. All values must be defended.

The cycle of life is the best reminder that nothing stands still. Life is always in constant flux, and change is normal. Sure, spring is the perfect symbolic time to “clean out” the old, but anytime of the year is the perfect starting place. From birth, growth, maturity, death, to our final home, it’s all part of the cycle of life.

(Information from: Pure Ministry Newsletter – UPCI Ladies Ministries – ladiesconnections@upci.org)

 


“The Road Out Is the Road Back” by Caitlin Walker.
“Set up signposts to mark your trip home. Get a good map. Study the road conditions. The road out is the road back.” (Jeremiah 31:21, The Message)

I’m a big planner, and I like to be prepared for any scenario when we travel. To be honest, we don’t go too far from home because the unexpected can be too daunting. But when we do take a trip, I have multiple to-do lists that I start weeks/months before we ever leave.

When you take a trip, not too many plan for the trip home because you just assume it’s the same as the way there. On your travels, you usually take notice of landmarks, signs, and rest stops as you follow the map. Perhaps you are old school and have a good old fashioned paper map. Or maybe you just haul up the map app on your phone and listen to the pleasant voice telling you when to turn right. You pay attention to curves, hills, and potholes as you navigate new roads on your journey.

You’re prepared, and you know the way to go. Doesn’t that sound just like the journey we are all taking called life? We are always faced with new paths to take, and the terrain is usually unfamiliar to us. As we walk this new path by faith, we learn new things, take in current sights, and experience unique periods of life.

When we wander and stray from God and our relationship with Him, the road back can be extremely difficult to navigate. It can appear to be more complex and intimidating then it really is. Mercy and love are always waiting for you with outstretched, nail-scarred hands. The unconditional love of your good, good Father is so near to you and can be felt as soon as you whisper the precious name of Jesus.

The road out is the road back.
Don’t hesitate to call on that name today. You haven’t gone too far; He is awaiting your return.

(Information from: Pure Ministry Newsletter – UPCI Ladies Ministries – ladiesconnections@upci.org)

 


“Three Ways to a Bigger Life” by Paula Nilsen.
When making hard decisions, I like to consider which option yields the bigger life—which option ultimately brings greater happiness. I first learned about this concept from one of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin. The bigger life for me is most often centered around connection, creating, and being the hands and feet of Jesus.

1. Choosing Connection

Connection, not isolation, always yields the bigger life. We weren’t meant to live in isolation. Ask anyone who struggled with the recent quarantines how difficult it was to remain in isolation.

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Staying in is the new going out.” Or this one: “Because it doesn’t get better than staying home.” I, too, have joined the masses in the glorification of staying home.

Although I’ve said these things and shared the memes, I understand that blessings come from being with people of like faith. Ask Ruth. Ask Naomi. They traveled far to find connection. They could no longer live in isolation away from the people of God. Consider the blessings that ensued in their lives and the shout out they received in the gospel of Matthew.

How I am finding the bigger life through connection: I attend conferences and singles’ gatherings—a Caribbean cruise was among my favorite singles’ events. I go on mission trips whenever possible. My ministry in Scotland and Spain hold precious memories and God moments for me. On a smaller scale, I choose connection over isolation by being with friends and family regularly, connecting weekly via Zoom during the pandemic.

2. Create

I’ll be straight: creating is hard work, but I love having created something. Creating takes a lot of brain power, but what I’ve found most often, creating is about consistency and showing up to your work. So, I’m here to say, write that story. Write that song—the charge went out at NAYC to Apostolic artists, remember? Study Spoken Word poetry and then perform it at your church or in a youth class.

Here’s the thing: your creativity looks different from mine, and much different than I can even imagine for you on this page. I know this: God is calling you to be like Him, even in His creativity. He created entire worlds out of nothing. So, go create something out of nothing and you, too, will reap benefits and blessings.

How I am finding the bigger life through creating: I write. You see, Jesus stands at my door and knocks. I open the door and inspiration enters the room. It is for this reason that I sit daily at the keyboard with my word processor open and my hands on the keyboard. I’ve learned that if I show up to my creativity, God does too.

3. Be God’s Hands and Feet

When I think of being God’s hands and feet, I think of Matthew 25:43: “I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.” If you lack ideas, start with this Scripture.

Start a class and teach from your unique experiences. Invite friends to Zoom in. If you lack ideas, talk with your pastor. He might be praying for someone for a specific ministry. Maybe you are that person he/she is praying for. Whatever we can do as the body of Christ to tap into the idea of “greater works than these will [you] do,”—those are the things we should be doing. (See John 14:12.) Pray and ask God how you can make a difference in the Kingdom.

How I am finding the bigger life through being God’s hands and feet: I teach recovery classes at my church (currently online). Helping someone else along their journey is a happiness booster for me. I also have facilitated an online discussion with friends about strengthening relationships with our adult children. If I can’t figure out a subject out on my own, I include friends. Always.

It’s easy to be God’s hands and feet these days.

And that’s it—three ideas for creating a happier life. Decisions become easier when we consider the bigger life. For me the bigger life inevitably centers around ministry, creating, and choosing connection over isolation.

Paula Nilsen is an author and writer. She works at Pentecostal Publishing House. She is an advocate for abundant living and is a certified life coach, equipping people to deal with loss and to overcome adversity. She loves spending time with her grown children.

(Information from: SISTERS Military Newsletter – October 2021 – UPCI Ladies Ministries sisters@upci.org)

 


“The Greatest Book” by Anne Johnston.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

“Life without books is like an unsharpened pencil…it has no point.” When I saw this quote recently, I immediately wanted to re-word it to read: “Life without the Bible is like an unsharpened pencil…it has no point.”
My daughter and son-in-law recently moved into a new home and chose to use one room just as a library. I had the privilege of unpacking boxes and boxes of books and arranging them on the shelves. There were books of history, travel, inspiration, biography, fiction, and many other genres. One shelf contained Bibles in English and some in other languages. It was hard not to open each book and peruse its pages. This room could provide hours of reading for several people.

Our world is full of books, but the greatest Book of all is the Bible. Within its pages are thrilling stories of God’s love and interaction with mankind from the beginning of time. There are mysteries, romance, history and so many other things to read about. It records not only good and pleasant things, but evil things that happened as well. We know that all the records are true and inspired by God for us to learn from. And of course, it contains the story of God’s great love for mankind in coming to earth, living our example, dying on the cross, and rising again so that we might have eternal life.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3:16-17)

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (II Peter 1:20-21)

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)

I love to read, and I am sure that there are many of you who feel the same. But the best book that we can ever read is the Bible. It contains everything that we need to know to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ. It should always have first place on our reading list. A daily time spent reading it, is as essential to our spiritual life as our daily food is to our natural bodies.

(Information from: SISTERS Military Newsletter – October 2021 – UPCI Ladies Ministries sisters@upci.org)


“THE POWER OF THE THRONE ROOM OF PRAYER AND WORSHIP” from Pastor Don Rogers.

The atmosphere found in the throne room of prayer and worship is a secret place of prayer for the believer. Biblically, in Isaiah 6:1-9, we see that it produced three powerful teaching truths:

It is a place we can bring those painful things that have died in our lives as Isaiah did. “In the year that King Uzziah died, [in a vision] I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the skirts of His train filled the [most holy part of the] temple. Above Him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two [each] covered his [own] face, and with two [each] covered his feet, and with two [each] flew. And one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory! And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who cried, and the house was filled with smoke” (Isaiah 6:1-4 AMPC).

It is a place we can bring unclean things that have wounded or hurt us as Isaiah did. “Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone and ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts! Then flew one of the seraphim [heavenly beings] to me, having a live coal in his hand which he had taken with tongs from off the altar; And with it he touched my mouth and said, Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity and guilt are taken away, and your sin is completely atoned for and forgiven” (Isaiah 6:5-7 AMPC).

It is a place of great restoration and empowerment for kingdom soul winning and discipleship. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. [9] And He said, Go and tell this people, Hear and hear continually, but understand not; and see and see continually, but do not apprehend with your mind” (Isaiah 6:8-9 AMPC).

The throne room is an atmosphere for the holiness of God to root out anything that is not like the holiness of God. It empowers us with courage and perseverance to focus on kingdom assignments. Let us cry out, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD!”

Pastor Don Rogers
The Pentecostals of Wisconsin
Wisconsin District Prayer Coordinator
WNOP North Central Regional Prayer Coordinator
(Info from: World Network of Prayer – Prayer Connect – wnopadmins@upci.org)


Adam, Where are You?
“And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9)

This is such a poignant question. Obviously, God knew where Adam was. The question was did Adam know where he was?

“Where are you” triggered several ideas in my mind. “Where are you” connotes your location. This could be asking where are you positionally, physically, emotionally, and even where are you on commitment. It also speaks to where you are on a particular point of view. Where do you stand on that issue? Where are you in relations to your family life? Where are you spiritually? Where are you psychologically?

By this, hopefully, you can see where I am taking this thought process. I’m asking you today to examine yourself and see where are you on God’s agenda? When He comes, what will your response be when He asks, where are you on what I have given you to do? Will your response mirror that of the stewards who were given talents to invest?

Are you a five-talent responder? Are you a two-talent responder? Or are you a one-talent responder (see Mathew 25)?

The Second Adam, in the person of Jesus Christ, at age 12, had to respond to that same question, Jesus, where are you? Jesus had the correct response. He said, “I am about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:48-49).

So what would your response be when you’re asked, where are you? You are the only one that can honestly answer that question. So let us all take inventory, and make the appropriate adjustments so we too can respond like the second Adam.

Let’s pray these verses as David did in Psalm 139:23-24:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Amen.

Margaret Banks
WNOP International Harvest Prayer Coordinator
Mt. Vernon, New York
(Info from: Prayer Connect Newsletter – World Network of Prayer – wnopadmins@upci.org)


COMMITMENT
How Committed Are We To…?

We will always be committed to what is important to us. Jesus said, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. According to an online version of the dictionary, the word “commitment” means the following: “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. A pledge or undertaking. An engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action”. When our relationship to God is important to us, we will strive to be committed to His Word and ways. God understands our humanity. This is why Scripture tells us that we should examine our heart daily, even though only God knows what is truly in them. King David, a man after God’s Heart, prayed that God would reveal what was in his heart, and lead him to the way of everlasting life. Our hearts are “deceitful and desperately wicked” (see Jeremiah 17:9). According to Strong’s Concordance, the heart of mankind without the influence of the Holy Ghost and God’s Word, and a mindset to act righteously, is crooked, deceitful, polluted, and hopelessly sick. We must guard our hearts because out of our hearts flow the issues of life. The word “issues” implies the very source of life. Therefore, we must guard what we allow to come into our hearts and minds.

Everything we do and say, the choices we make, good or bad, are a result of what is in our heart. This includes whether or not we remain committed to God, His ways, and His Word. This even affects our relationships with our fellow man. These things are important to God. Haven’t we read that if we say we love God, but hate our brother, we are liars? The question we must ask ourselves, myself included, is how committed are we to God, others, and ourselves? This dynamic is very important in keeping the first commandment, as given by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And one thing is for certain, we will not remain committed to any of the above without consistent, daily prayer.

God sees what is in our hearts, even though we don’t always know. We can have a clue by judging what we say, but even then, we must understand that we need God, who is the Mighty Counselor, and His Spirit, the Holy Ghost, to help us. We cannot have the Spirit of God influencing us without prayer. We cannot hope to know God without prayer. Religious tradition might try to tell us otherwise, but this is a lie for the convenience of those who are at ease in Zion. They are deceived. Nobody can know all there is to know about God, but we must seek Him while He can be found. We should not seek God solely for His blessings, even though He desires to bless us. God allows rain to fall on the righteous and the wicked because He is love, and He is always good. However, scripture shows us how Jesus felt towards those who sought after, followed, and believed in Him only because they saw the miracles He did.

The Bible tells us, “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25 KJV). The following are Strong’s Concordance definitions, showing what the word “commit” implies in the original language: “to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), commit (to trust)”. When interpreting scripture, it is helpful to consider the historical, grammatical, and geographical context of what we are reading. This means to consider when, where, and what language was used at the time of the writing. But knowing that God does not change, we must examine our hearts to determine whether or not God can commit to us. Do we only desire to follow Him for the loaves and the fishes? Are we only seeking God to get us out of a bad situation? There is nothing wrong with asking God for things, but we should be committed to Him on a daily basis, regardless of what is going on. Let’s possess our hearts and souls with patience, waiting on Him, being content in our present situations, while we seek God on a daily basis. Let’s be people who He can trust, in good times, and in bad times. Let’s love Him because He first loved us.

Beth Marie Evans
Apostolic Author
Associate Minister
International Christian Fellowship
Brookfield, Illinois
(Info from: Prayer Connect Newsletter – World Network of Prayer – wnopadmins@upci.org)


“A REMNANT THAT PRAYS” by Rev. Donald Dobson.
“Prayer is to God’s Will as Rails are to a Train”

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples'” (Luke 11:1).

God is calling out a remnant of workplace (Harvest) believers throughout the world who understand the role of prayer in their work. These people have learned that prayer is not a five-minute exercise in the morning devotion time, but it is a vital strategic tool to discern and know God’s will and purposes in their daily lives. They have learned that their personal and business lives are their ministries to God and others.

These men and women have entered into covenant relationships with intercessory prayer partners who help discern the activities they should be involved in. Some even have paid staff, who intercede for their decisions and activities in which they will be involved. They are a small remnant of workplace (Harvest) believers who know that skill and technique are not enough to fulfill God’s purposes.

A servant of the Lord has well said, “Prayer is the rail for God’s work.” Indeed, prayer is to God’s will as rails are to a train. The locomotive is full of power: it is capable of running a thousand miles a day. But if there are no rails, it cannot move forward a single inch. If it dares to move without them, it will soon sink into the earth. It may be able to travel over great distances, yet it cannot go to any place where no rails have been laid. And such is the relationship between prayer and God’s work.

Without any doubt, God the Almighty works mightily, but He will not and cannot work if you and I do not labor together with Him in prayer, prepare the way for His will, and pray “with all prayer and supplication” to grant Him the maneuverability to work. (Ephesians 6:18) Many are the things, which God wills to do, and would like to do, but His hands are bound because His children do not sympathize with Him and have not prayed so as to prepare the way for Him. Let me say to all who have wholly given themselves to God, “Do examine yourselves and see if in this respect you have limited Him day after day.”

Is prayer a vital part of your strategic daily practices? Put prayer on the front lines, instead of making it an afterthought. You will begin to see renewed power in your daily life.

Like the trains, which helped to build America, each train required a power source to make their daily journey, as they display their power source over public road crossings all across America.
It is impossible to follow a source without first making a connection to it.

Being first connected, then following the power source is our invitation into His Harvest.
Build a relationship with the Master first, and He will publicly display His hand of fivefold ministry across America!

The USA is dedicated to God. It was built with a purpose, and He will save it. He will now display His power for all to see around the world. Get Connected America!

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

It’s time to get the enemy off track and out of our garden!

Rev. Donald Dobson
UPCI Minister
(Information from: World Network of Prayer – wnopadmins@upci.org)

 


“Alabaster Box Prayers” by Kathleen Arcidiacono.
“And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she broke the box, and poured it on his head.” (Mark 14:3)

An anonymous woman, an alabaster box of a precious perfumed oil, in an atmosphere where this lady was not wanted nor welcome. She was met with anger and murmurings by all present in that room except for one: Jesus. That precious box, sealed by wax to keep the oil inside fresh and pure, was poured on the head of none else but the Creator of the entire universe and humanity. An anointing. A preparation for the burial of His earthly body. An act of worship, sacrifice, and love.

This box was the price of a year’s wages, and the men present in that room considered it a total waste of money poured out on Jesus’ head. But Jesus did not think so. In fact, He told those men and disciples to leave her alone and that she had done a good work on Him. We never need to fear when we give something to Jesus; He takes note. Jesus said, “She has done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body to the burying” (Mark 14:8).

I am a great believer in essential oils and the oil mentioned here was spikenard, an oil often used for emotional and physical wellbeing. It is also noted to bring tranquility to the user. As we read further, we find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying to be able to accept the “cup that was given to Him to drink.” The Bible clearly shows us He was under a great physical, mental, and spiritual stress. Perhaps Jesus Himself, in His mortal body, benefited from the spikenard oil poured upon His head, where not too long after a crown of thorns would be brutally pushed into His scalp. Jesus called this work that the woman did an anointing for His coming burial. Is not prayer and intercession a preparation for that day when we will go to be with Him in our celestial body and home?

Our prayers for our children and our family are never a waste of time or effort or sacrifice. Praying for them is a declaration of our devotion and love to them and to God.
Each day, we need to take time to fill our spiritual alabaster box with the precious ointment of our prayers and permeate our home with the odor.

Note: Kathleen Arcidiacono is wife to Italian Superintendent, Reverend Salvatore Arcidiacono. They have three beautiful children and three beautiful grandchildren. They pastor in Catania, Sicily.
(Information from: Ladies Prayer Intl November 2021 Newsletter – UPCI Ladies Ministries – ladiesprayerinternational@aol.com)

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