A New and Living Way

My heart is overcome with the love of the Father for you as I write today. As a leadership team at Zion’s River we believe God is setting the stage for our hearts to enter into new levels of believing, greater engagement with His presence, and a renewed sense of His life moving through every facet of our daily living. We are aware of the spiritual enemy whose goal is to rob individuals of their divine story through deception which comes via our own free will. Yet, GREATER still, we believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are at work on our behalf to create and give life, and this life is found under Their covering, and within the borders and boundaries set within the written word of God. We believe that as we choose to engage our faith, the substance thereof will bring a tangible manifestation of Heaven on earth and it is from this place of belief I write to you today.|

Many within the Church are looking for answers and for a word that speaks to the current issues of the Nation, they are looking for a way in which they can overcome and rise above. The answer we seek lies within the faith we possess. Through it all, Jesus sits on the throne beckoning for us to turn our hearts to Him once again, to be revived by His word, and to be led by a word greater than our own. Hear me Beloved, this is not condemnation, this is the Father Himself speaking out through His leaders.

Now is the time for the Church to rise up and step into His New and Living Way (Hebrews 10:20). This is the time in which He is calling our hearts to be revived by an authority greater than ourselves and to move from the place from which Jesus Himself has opened up for us through His death and resurrection. God is calling us to be Holy as He Himself is holy (1 Peter 1:16). He is declaring over us once again that “[We] are a chosen race; a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light,” (2 Peter 2:9). He is calling us to turn our eyes upon Jesus, to hear His voice, and to walk in His ways. He is calling us, the Church, to be the answer.

Lives Will Be Eternally Changed
Through our faith in God, and His heavenly provision, lives within the Nations will be eternally changed. Pastor Jim stated on Sunday that “faith is the only force that has the power to draw upon what heaven possesses”. Our corporate belief, engagement with His presence, and engagement with our everyday living will become the catalyst through which we will see our God move. As Pastor Jim stated “our faith gives God the legal access to enter our situation…it releases what we passionately envision, and IS the work of our Christianity”. Our “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1- KJV). The faith we possess is made possible not through our works (…religious duty and sacrifice), but rather through the new and living way of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:19-23 reads:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Take The Great Leap
Church, “without faith it is impossible for us to please him, for whoever draws near to God must believe that he exists, and that he rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). I declare over Zion’s River and the Church that now is the time of faith, now is the time for us to confidently draw near to God, now is the time to engage our belief, to live from the place of His presence, and to allow our lives to speak of the New and Living Way. The One who has called us has fully equipped us, and “…it is not by might, nor by power, but by [his] Spirit…” (Zechariah 4:6) that Zion’s River will take the great leap.

With Great Love for His Church,

Melissa

Celebrating 16 Years

Beloved,  
I pray that this letter finds you and your family doing very well!

I am writing today with the intention of encouraging and strengthening your hearts for the days ahead. There is so much going on in the world around us, yet do remember this, Our King, Jesus Christ is forever on the throne reigning in majesty. Whatever may come, of this one thing we are confident, He has overcome and is our strong Victor! Hallelujah! Beloved, VICTORY is our inheritance. VICTORY is our story! We have been called from death to life!

In just four days I will complete my graduate studies and close the chapter on my education journey. It has been arduous at times and yet SO FULL OF JOY! My God has alone brought me through. As I sit writing to you I cannot help but remember how far God has brought me, how far he has brought me from death to life. You see, I am not only completing my education journey on October 23, 2016, I am also celebrating 16 years since my father passed from death to life. I find our God to be so clever, and timely!

Sixteen years ago I sat at my Father’s side, holding his hand as he had just passed away, and I uttered these words, “God, I don’t know if I can live anymore, it feels like part of me has died with him. Where do I go from here? What is there for me?” As I said my final goodbye, I walked from his room, once filled with life, and climbed into bed. I cried myself to sleep and felt as if I had nothing to live for, to me life was nowhere to be found. Just two years, prior I was at my Mother’s bedside saying my final goodbye to her. How could it be once again?

Yet, on October 24, 2000 I opened my eyes and by the grace of our God I stepped out of bed, kept living life, and have done so for the past 16 years. Now I find myself graduating on October 23, 2016 – completing this chapter of my story. These past 16 years have been filled with many struggles. I did not recognize at first that life was present, it simply felt like death swarmed around me and threatened me at every turn. For most of the years since my Father’s passing, I have felt as if I was being sifted and at times torn apart. I was so unsure of myself, unsure of the world around me, unable to hold down jobs and relationships, unable to complete most of what I started, school being one of those areas. Yet, praise be to God who alone has brought me to this moment.

No Journey Is Wasted
Naturally many have asked what I will be doing with myself now that I have graduated. Will I go get a job? How will I use all the education I have obtained? I too have asked, what is the next step? And, naturally, I have at times, over the past 2 weeks, become nervous desiring to find answers to these questions! Yet Beloved, as I write you today I write with certainty when I say that the completion of a 16-year process, a process of moving from death to life, is so I can turn to you, my dear Brothers and Sisters, and strengthen you for the days ahead.

You see no journey, no struggle, no battle is a waste in our Father’s eyes. God allows times and seasons of testing in order that we would be His glory in the earth, a living testimony to the greatness of our God, who reigns forevermore and whose Son, Jesus Christ, is returning soon! Two weeks ago Pastor Jim preached a message, entitled Jesus’ Highest Prayer, in which he spoke about the following passage –

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”  Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” –Luke 22:31-34

Not the most popular passage ever to be preached from the pulpit, yet so needed. Beloved, we learned that, as believers, we are not exempt from trials and all that tags along. However, we are promised life and the very presence of God living within. Yet, what is most important about this passage is not the truth that we will be sifted but that we turn and strengthen our brothers. Beloved, perhaps you, like me, have faced great loss or perhaps it is another type of sifting all together. Whatever it may be, Beloved, be encouraged right now that you are in the palm of God’s hand and that which you face is not without the covering of Almighty God and his very presence within you.

Hear These Words
Today, Beloved, breathe deeply of His presence. Hear these words of encouragement from one who is here to strengthen her Brothers and Sisters; know that His life is within you and you are a beautiful display of His glory here on the earth. He has not left you but has entrusted His glory to you through the life you live today!

May you stand confidently believing that you too will turn again, and strengthen your brothers, perhaps you have partnered with me in this already! Beloved, it is my joy to serve you here at Zion’s River. I love you and believe in your story!

Melissa
Pastoral Intern

He Is Stirring our Hearts

For me, the past 8 weeks have been full of goodbyes and hello’s as I both sent off and welcomed those I love into their new normal. I have sent off yet another dear friend and her family, and am currently on a trip driving my eldest niece to college in California! I have sat in the presence of those whose new normal was accompanied by heartache and questions. I have both laughed and cried, yet in it all I am confident that our God is MIGHTY and He is at work! I believe He is at work stirring the hearts of his Sons and Daughters toward the fulfillment of their divine story; a story that is connected to the greater Divine Story.

Perhaps you, like me, are not certain what the new normal may hold and you take comfort in your old normal, perhaps wanting it to continue in some regard. For the past 18 years I have been in and out of school attempting to complete my educational journey. Community College, University, and now Graduate School have been all I have known (…of course with MANY life adventures wrapped up in it all!). Yet, I must remember that in order to be where I am today, in Graduate School, I first needed to complete my Associates of Arts Degree then my Bachelor of Arts Degree. It wasn’t until I went through each process that I was able to enter into Graduate School and find completion; a completion that accompanies my divine story.


BEHOLD!

Moving forward into the new is natural to the way God has designed us! Yet, in order to do so, we must receive perspective regarding what has progressed in our lives thus far and where God has designed us to step next. In his message entitled Foundations for a New Normal Curt Chanda stated:

The New Normal means that there was an old normal,
which was at one time the new normal,
which wasn’t normal before that time…
the old normal becomes the floor for the new normal.

God states in His word- “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19) In Hebrew we say הִנֵּה (hin·nē(h)): or to say exuberantly – Here! Look! Behold! Or do you see it! God is saying Behold! Look! Do you see it! Not in judgement, but to call His people higher, to next level in the Divine Story.

In Joshua 4:7 we read of the “Stones of Remembrance”, which marked the Old Normal and set the stage for the New Normal. It is here we read that “…these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” This is not a place to abide, but a place marking for generations, the faithfulness of God to move His people forward into their Divine Story! Yet, they still needed to Cross the River!

Here at Zion’s River we have crossed into our New Normal, our Stones of Remembrance are set and God is saying:

Behold Zion’s River! I, the Lord God am doing a new thing, now it springs forth…

“The New Normal means that there was an old normal, which was at one time the new normal, which wasn’t normal before that time…the old normal becomes the floor for the new normal.”

Beloved, we are standing on the floor of our new normal. God Himself is making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert! He alone is paving our way. He alone has gone before us and we confidently follow knowing that we have never been here before. As we Behold, as we look and see, we come to understand where He is leading us. We are saying yes and placing one foot in front of the other. We are moving from glory to glory!

I love each one of you and am praying for your story!
Melissa

The Author of our Story

Yesterday I walked out of the Military Entrance Processing Center (MEPS) with a very different outcome then I walked in expecting. No, I did not try to join the military! (…still laughing) June 22nd was the day that my eldest nephew was to be sworn into the military. As there can be glitches in life, June 22nd was packed full. Yet, as I walked away I could not help but think, was it a glitch or is God tending to a part of his story that only He can handle in the way our Good Father knows about.

God’s word says:

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalms 139:16
 
“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.”
Acts 17:26-27

I LOVE a good story! Have you ever wanted to just skip to the last chapter to see what is going to take place, so the chapters in between did not hold you in such suspense? Perhaps you actually read in sequence and the story didn’t quite turn out how you thought. Or, even better you discover you need to read five more books to find out the end! Did you ever dismiss the author of certain novels due to the lack of a good story? I can only imagine my nephew wanted to skip to the end and understand what was going to happen. Yet, he patiently waits for God to illuminate the next step. He trusts the Author.

Beloved, I truly believe God is inviting us to trust Him in a way that the Church at large has not experienced. I believe our hearing is being fine-tuned to awaken to the voice of God as the only voice leading us. Beloved, I believe God is inviting us to trust Him as the author of our story and we are being invited into a new normal. A new normal which no longer leaves us guessing, but confident! Confident that at every turn, no matter the thought, trial, or circumstance we face, we KNOW our God is in control, that we hear His voice, and we are confidently alive in the story written for us.

The Voice of God is Speaking

Hear the word of the Lord through Pastor Jim:

God’s “new normal” is always about a place of His new working. I don’t know of a time in this ministry where God has cried out louder for a new normal. God is saying, “I want you to believe for your healing like you never have before. Believe you are here on purpose. The trials you go through, the things you endure, they are also on purpose. I am using them to shape you and make you into a person who will manifest a glory on the earth – something that is brand new.”

WOW! God is using our circumstances to shape us and make us into a people who will manifest glory on the earth! How incredible is that! What JOY springs up to know that our story is designed for His GLORY!!!! As I spoke with my nephew my heart was encouraged as he spoke of his confidence in God and the plans He alone has set forth for him. He is sure that God is indeed the God of the details!

Beloved, what you face today is known by your creator, by the One who has ordained every day of your story. Perhaps you, like my nephew, stand in a place where plans are shifted and what you thought was going to happen suddenly is vastly different. Perhaps you are facing an unexpected diagnoses, pain in your body, or financial issues. Beloved, I implore you to hear the word of the Lord over His Church right now. His voice alone contains the key to our new normal. His voice alone contains every word written on the pages of our story. I encourage you to respond in a new way. Allow the filter of the past to be removed and for your ears to be fine-tuned to His voice.

Jesus makes this very simple! He is confident that we will hear His voice. What a relief!

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
John 10:27

Beloved, Jesus is saying to you right now “You can hear me, you can make faith filled decisions. I know all about you and I KNOW you can follow me. You are yielded to my voice.” Beloved, you have the very CONFIDENCE of Jesus Christ Himself! WOW WOW WOW!!!!

Final Encouragement

Receive this simple instruction from Pastor Jim as we step in our New Normal:

Ask the Lord, “Where are we going next, Jesus?”

…He alone knows.

You are Blessed and Highly Favored,

I love each one of you and am praying for your story!
Melissa