Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Turning to and from God. Stay or Stray?

I have attended church for over twenty years.  I have seen many people come and go, and come and go, and come again.  They are turning to and from God perpetually.  Some eventually determine to have a relationship with God.  They stay, and they love Him.  Others desire a temporary association with Christ. 
They treat God as if He is a secret or side lover.  When life gets rocky with their regular love (the world), they run to Jesus for the compassion and comfort He offers unconditionally.  God’s loving presence feels awesome.  It is a solace for a broken heart and relief from sin’s heavy burden.  However, they want to feel a good emotion without a call on their intellect to make a choice. 
For those who come to Christ seeking forgiveness, they will find it.  One encounter with Him and we are never the same. 
But until we choose against leaning to our own understanding, we will turn again to our worldly passions.  Until we choose to believe in who God is, and walk daily by faith, trusting Him, we keep on turning. 
As we turn and turn we choose the temporary “feel-good” over Christ.  We declare by our actions that the world is enough.  We declare it until our soul begins to cry out loud, “No, it is not enough”.  Then for another temporary moment we journey back to our love on the side – Jesus.  This time will we stay or stray again to another lover?
I wonder how many times will a man or woman turn and turn and turn.  They turn to God.  They turn to the world.  They turn to God.  They turn to fleshly desires.  What is the difference between them that turn and those that remain in Christ Jesus? 
I was tired of turning around and around.  The Bible says that a double minded man is unstable in all of his ways.  I was unstable and miserable.  Worldly pleasures became short-lived. 
Like an addict chasing their first high, the more we turn, the more we destroy ourselves. 
The more the world let me down and the more I let myself down, I could see how much Jesus really loved me.  What on earth was I thinking; to turn from Him?
Jesus is there all of the time.  In all of our turning and blowing in the wind, Jesus is waiting with open arms to receive us.  There is no greater love, for God is love.  He died.  He rose.  He returned to sustain us by the power of the Holy Ghost.  His love goes anywhere and reaches to anyone, but who will hold to His hand when He reaches and not let go?
How do we turn from this?
Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 – (NIV)
When He has promised this:
But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 - (KJV)
A relationship with God is not emotional only, it is purposeful.  It is forgiveness.  It is love.  It is living.  It is Heaven.
Turn, turn, turning, and the clock is winding down.  How long do we have to make the decision if we will stay or stray?  No one knows.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Talitha Cumi

Talitha Cumi (Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.)
I studied these words from Mark 5:41 as I prepared for my trial sermon this month.  It is amazing how the Word of God can parallel with so many of life’s struggles.  In these verses we see Jairus coming to Jesus by faith and praying that He would come and lay hands on his daughter that she may be made well.  Before Jesus arrives at the home of Jairus, it was announced that his daughter was dead.
The loss and pain of physical death is real.  The loss and pain of spiritual death is just as real.  Have you ever found yourself in a spiritually sick state?  Because of the trials of life, your faith was shaken and as a result, your soul was injured. 
Death is separation.  It is separation from life.  Have you ever been separated from spiritual life?
My fight with depression was brutal.  During that time I should have held on to my faith in God with all that was within me, but I didn’t.  I did not want to admit it at the time, but I was making a conscious decision to let the fight overtake me. 
My mother was the Jairus in my life.  Her faith remained steadfast and her intercessory prayers sustained me until "I" was ready to rise.  As hard as life seemed to be for me at the time, I didn’t want to die.  My soul wanted desperately to live and thrive.
I needed a restoration of my faith, so I engrossed myself with scripture.  I memorized. I quoted.  I wrote.  The Word of God became embedded in me.  Faith comes from the Word of God. 
Finally I found the courage to face the reality of poor decisions I made and accept responsibility.  Yet, with all of my toiling, only God had the power to regenerate my spiritual life.  I cried unto Lord to lay His hands on me and in the spirit Jesus proclaimed
“Talitha Cumi, Damsel I say unto thee arise”
Just like the daughter of Jairus rose from physical death, I rose from my bed of depression and He renewed His Spirit within me.  His daughter rose and started walking.  Once God mended my brokenness, by faith, I walk in the Spirit.
Continually my prayer shall be…Lord lay your hand upon… according to my faith He will answer, “Talitha Cumi”

-Candra Evans

Monday, July 16, 2012

For Women Only: His name is Jesus

Since we were little girls, we dreamed of being a princess. In our despair a handsome prince would come and rescue us.  We’d fall in love and living happily ever after. We pulled pedals from flowers reciting the words, “He loves me, He loves me not” with hopes the last pedal would reveal mutual love from the boy we admired.

But for some, as we grew from girls to women, the harsh realities of an unjust world crushed those little girl dreams.

Never did we find ourselves in the arms of a handsome prince.  So we settled for relationships full of empty promises, sending us spiraling down dark paths where no amount of sex, clothes, drugs, or money can give relief for very long. It leaves us weary, tired, and longing for a deliverer.

Did you know that there is One who loves you past your faults and pain?  His love is courageous and the joy He gives is sweeter than honey. He is a Prince. He is a King. He is ruler of the universe. No, He is not a comic book super hero, but will rescue you when you call.  He will love you beyond an unjust society and battered dreams. Come to Him broken and He will mend and uphold you, making you the blessed woman you always knew you could be.

He is a man of honor. He does not use.  He does not abuse.  He has never cheated or lied.

He values the life of every woman.  He took great care of His mother. He came to the rescue of an adulterous woman. He defended the heart of a poor widow who could not give as much as others, but gave all she had. He esteemed the worship of a woman under fire by a room full of men. He healed a woman with an issue flowing blood from her body.  He touched the hand of a young girl and raised her from the dead.  Through Him their pain ended and new life began.   

They trusted Him, and He gave them love that never failed. He heals us, restores our destiny, and forgives our past.  He changes us from women of dishonor to women of nobility and total beauty.

His name is JESUS.

He gave his life…suffering…sacrificing himself to pay the debt of every sin from the past, the present, and of those yet to be born. He rose from the grave three days later, gaining victory over death. Jesus ascended back to Heaven to prepare a perfect place us, and sent back the Comforter.  His Spirit is on the earth today and waiting to dwell inside of you, to lead and guide you to all that is truth.

John 15:13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Want to know what God has in store for you?

1 Corinthians 2: 9 – But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Leave your inhibitions behind and come. Leave your past behind and come. Leave shame behind and come.

Your Prince is here.  He died for your sins. He rose from the dead. He has come again in Spirit. He is waiting to rescue you, hold you, and love you. He is the greatest love you will ever know. 

-Candra Evans

Greater Community Church of the Apostolic Faith
3590 Alaska Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45237

Friday, July 13, 2012

You are still alive.

In my darkest hour, at the lowliest point in my life I went to of all places, a cemetery.  I don’t know why.  Perhaps, subconsciously, I thought that is where I belonged.  I put my face down to the grave of my grandmother and cried.  To my surprise I felt the presence of God there.  It is true that there is no place we can hide from Him.
A soft breeze blew through the strands of my hair and He pressed in my heart these words. 
“You are still alive.”
I was broken in spirit and without a friend who could understand.  My mind was weary.  My heart was cold and bitter.  I tried to reason why after so many years my prayer was not answered.  I reasoned.  I calculated.  I considered the matter and every time I came up empty.
There I lay, in a senseless place, with a faithless mind, and an ungrateful heart.
But God, who is rich in love and grace, cared about the issues of this woman. He determined His will to come and rescue me. He comforted me and increased my faith by His Word.
When nothing and no one else could help…. Jesus saved me.  When I was scared to stand alone in this world, Jesus exchanged my fears for courage.
Leave your inhibitions behind and live. Leave your past behind and live.
Your heart is still beating. You can still cry out. Love is still inside of you.
Come away from the grave.
You are still alive.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Flowers that Fade

Some time ago I stopped at my local grocery store to buy a bottle of carrot juice before work. Upon entering there was a large display of flowers. I’m not the greatest flower enthusiast, but the colors and the fragrances were so wonderful, they captured my attention. I picked out the most colorful bunch, purchased a small vase, grabbed a bottle of carrot juice :) , and headed to work.

I set up my exquisite floral purchase on my desk next to the monitor and was amazed at how much they brightened up my oatmeal colored office. They brightened my entire day. During each trial of my work day, I looked at those lively radiant flowers and had to acknowledge the power of God. God does so well at overtaking me with an abundance of joy with just small wonders of blessings. Those flowers reminded me that God is in control and nothing is too hard for Him. 

Since that day, I stop by the grocery every week to pick out new flowers, because of course, flowers don’t live forever.

When my first little bunch of purple and pink flowers started to die, I was a little heartbroken. It was one of those things where you knew it was going to happen, but that didn’t mean you were willing to accept it. I’m sure most of you know where I’m coming from. So anyway, they drooped and wilted a good bit before I threw them away. Then the following morning I purchased more, different kinds with a different fragrance.

And knowing those flowers would fade away, I committed to enjoy them every hour of my day.

As I grow older and go through my own process of fading, I’m learning more how crucial it is to commit to enjoy life. I look in the mirror and realize that like the fading flower, my life is not forever. No need to be sad over this because I am a believer in Jesus Christ, been buried in His name by water baptism, and have His Spirit inside of me. Therefore, I know that I have eternal life. But even before that life begins, I must die.

I thought counting down the days to our wedding would make the time towards the date slower, but it is indeed coming quickly. Some weeks I lose track of the days because of times speedy pace. When I think of all the days I sorrowed in my wait to find my husband, I have some regret. Why didn’t I commit to enjoy those days, like my fading flowers? Why didn’t I appreciate the one of a kind beauty and sweet fragrances those days possessed for me? I had my good days, yes. But, was there more “good” there that I missed because I chose worry above joy. Now, those days are gone.

I pray to be strengthened in God that I may hold time dear to my heart. Time is precious. The flower is promised only a short life and it seems that ours fade just as quickly. I am not promised tomorrow. I have to hold on to everything that is precious to me now. I have to tell my family that I love them now. I have to forgive the ones who hurt me now. I have to choose joy and peace over sorrow and frustration now. I have to worship God and serve Him only…now. It may be too late tomorrow. Time will not wait for me. The future will come when it’s ready and the past will not welcome me back again. I must enjoy, appreciate, believe, love, cherish, be patient, hold on, let go, do whatever I got to do in the will of God, now.

Every day possesses a radiant beauty that is unlike any other day. It doesn’t matter what our struggles and problems are. They don’t change the beauty of God’s creation and the fact that life is a gift. There are opportunities to seize that may not come again. I pray to not be wasteful of the days and not hesitant to do what is right. I am only thirty-six years old today. But as my days begin to wilt and fade I want to say that I loved the best that I could and that I enjoyed the gift of life that God gave to me with wisdom and understanding.

He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Job 14:2

P.S. - And let this be a lesson to all you beautiful single women out there that...
...it is perfectly okay to buy your own flowers. ;)

Candra Evans

Monday, June 11, 2012

When You Feel Like Giving Up...

It was early in the morning yet it felt like it was going to be one of those days. I did not feel exceptionally well, work has been… different, and so on, and so on. Seeking to change my attitude and show my gratitude, I sang praises to God while driving to work. I am the worst singer EVER, but thankfully God doesn’t mind. I came in the office and needed to print a report. Instead of sending the print job to the printer in my office, I sent it to the main copier shared by the first floor. It is an odd thing to do, I know. Sometimes I like change and so I do little things like this to escape ruts. But I digress. I walked down to the copy room to pick up my report and there was a sheet of paper on top of the copier. The print was very small and it appeared to be some type of clip art with words printed within the picture. Someone printed it the day before and did not pick it up before leaving.

The words captured me.  

“When you feel like giving up, remember why you have held on so long in the first place.”

I do not know where this originated from, which of my co-workers printed this or why they had not come to retrieve it. But it was God's will that those words lay visible where I would see them.  He knew, as the original author penned this message, that I would need these words. This is why I hold on to trusting in Jesus for everything. He never fails and I will always remember that. Amen and Hallelujah and Smile -Candra Evans

I Will Trust God Again

In the last twenty years of serving God, I have learned to trust in Him.  Mastering the art of trust does not happen overnight.  It was a process that required exercising my faith every day.  I had to maintain my focus away from my own thoughts and imaginations to God’s eternal promises.  I learned to give little notice to the clock and figuring out just when my blessing would come, and paid more attention to the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.
The stretching of my faith meant discomfort to the flesh.  But as they say: no pain, no gain.
The issues of life are complicated.  They seem to offer more problems than resolutions.  I find myself every day needing to “trust God again.”  The faith I had for yesterday was for yesterday.  Today brings new concerns.
Trusting God never ends.  We can pride ourselves in our education and experience but only as we get closer to Jesus can we see things as they really are.  The journey to Him means yielding trust.  It requires giving authority to His sovereignty in our lives. 
The answers for yesterday may not be applicable today.  God may have a different command for us today.  The guidance of the Holy Ghost may lead us in a direction different from what we planned when we woke up this morning.  Will we trust God again?
To trust God again today I cannot put all of my trust in a person, thing, or idea.  When I do this, boundaries are blurred and truth is as clear as mud.  Who is right?  Who is wrong?  Who can be found faithful?  The wrong advice will deepen my pain.  Corrupt motives will trip me and I will stumble.  I must trust God alone. 
Today I will trust in God again.  I have proven myself to be fallible.  Jesus has proved to be flawless.  With each new day, every new trial, and all of life’s burdens, I will trust God again and again.