Jan. 12. Today we take the focus off of our own needs and focus on others. God doesn’t ask us to do something we cannot, or give something we don’t have. He just asks us to share what we have or do what we are able to do. Acts chapter 10 tells a wonderful story of a man named Cornelius who was remembered in heaven for his kindness to the poor. It moved heaven to do something on his behalf, and God sent an angel to tell him that God was getting ready to bless him and his household! There is also a wonderful story of a very poor woman in 1 Kings 17:8 that was so discouraged over her poverty, that she had given up all hope and was preparing to die. God sent one of His servants to her and his prophet asked for a bite to eat. The poor widow woman had nothing but a little flour and oil that with which she had made a small loaf of bread. It was hardly enough for herself much less feed her son and this man of God as well. She initially protested that she did not have enough, then the prophet encouraged her faith by telling her if she was obedient to his request, her flour and oil would not run dry and she would have enough to carry her through the famine. It's when we are truly in need ourselves and give as a sacrifice that we are really tested. Those kind of tests never come at a convenient time! But if we can deny our fears and tendency to be selfish, our selflessness and acts of kindness to others causes God to release a blessing back to us. "When you lend to the poor, you lend to the Lord and He will repay!" Withholding what is in our hand leads to poverty, but generosity unlocks the resources of heaven. What a motivator to find ways to bless!
Some years back, we got down to our last meal. All I had was a small tuna casserole, yet all morning long I had prayed to ask God to give me some idea that was anointed for breakthrough. When lunch time came, I started fixing the casserole, not knowing how I was going to feed my family that night. We were desperate for a breakthrough! Then I remembered this story from 1 Kings and I told my husband we needed to go find some homeless people to feed. We were willing to fast that meal and give it as an offering to the Lord. Little did we know that it would have a domino effect and set off a chain of events that we NEVER could have anticipated! God did supply and we never went hungry, but others found out what we had done and they wanted to help feed the poor also. So the next week, we had more food to share and we went to feed the homeless again. Each week, God multiplied resources and started providing for this little gesture of faith to our community. About the third week, God set us up. We were in one of the downtown parks in Pensacola and little did we know there had been this long standing war of sorts between the homeless, the downtown business owners, and the city manager's office. Things had gotten pretty heated as those who had clout and a loud voice made themselves known to the City Manager. And there we were, unknowingly being observed by the local business owners who were hot under the collar about us feeding the homeless in the very area where they wanted them removed. The Pensacola Independent News reported, [Wednesday, October 3, 2007 - Norm
and Laura Gagnon and two friends were asked to abandon their attempt to
feed the homeless in Plaza Ferdinand in downtown Pensacola after a
complaint was phoned into the police. The Gagnons did not have the
proper permits to hold a gathering in the city park and pass out 50
meals." Police were called to kick us out of the park but that wasn't all. Reporters just happened to have heard about us and were there observing the whole thing too. It hit the front page of the local Pensacola paper and the blog comments went crazy. So crazy, in fact, that the next day we got a phone call from the City Manager asking us to come in and meet with him. (A little intimidating, I might add!) But the crazy thing is, my husband heard the Lord tell him to ask for the premier park downtown to hold a crusade so that we could involve even more of the city and feed the poor. I couldn't believe what I was hearing! But the City Manager just wanted the whole thing to go away, and there was a lot of pressure from a lot of different people to smooth things over. So guess what? None of this had been thought about before we got there. Totally spontaneous act of faith. We had no money. We were pretty much nobodies without a clue how to get this done, and here is my husband asking the City Manager for a park to hold an evangelistic outreach event. Believe it or not, the man said YES. So then we had to go home and think about what we had just done. I asked my husband if he was crazy. He shook his head and said he probably was, but He heard the Lord. Friend, let me tell you, we didn't hold just one crusade, we had two. The first event was held December 1, 2007 and it was put together in 52 days. (It literally became a Nehemiah event. If you read the book of Nehemiah, people came together to both pray, and build the walls that had been torn down. The walls to the city were re-built in 52 days!!). The second event was even bigger and I thought at first God wasn't going to do anything at all. But He was testing people to see if they would drop their own agendas and pick up His. For several weeks absolutely nothing happened. No phone calls, no emails...It finally came together in the last two weeks, just as we thought we might have to cancel! We fed over 600 people that day and made many prayers and declarations over the city. It was awesome. We even kicked off the event by marrying a homeless couple! On top of all this, the City fathers threw in a park where we could feed the homeless every week. They waived the permits and the fees. The body of Christ stepped up and provided everything that was needed. It brought churches together, bridged the gap between the homeless, who had many needs, and God shined the light on His body that came together to bless the less fortunate members of society. Norm became this voice of mediation between the homeless, the police department and the City Manager. I have so many more testimonies I could share. People getting healed, the local crack house family getting saved and delivered when they came out to get food, families being reunited, runaway teens going back home, miracle healings...so much happened that never would have happened if it hadn't been for a sacrificial tuna casserole. I apologize for the length of this post but I say all this to encourage you...you will never know what God has in store for you if you don't release what is in your hand! It might just set off a domino effect that is so much bigger than anything you could ever even dream up. This is the God that makes good on His promise to do exceedingly more than we could ask or imagine. If you would like to see a video of some of the pics, you can click on this link and there is a facebook link at the bottom with the video clip. http://xpectamiracle.blogspot.com/2012/07/healing-our-land-one-life-at-time.html
The Bible tells us, "Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked." (Ps. 82:3,4). Our wonderful Father instructs us to loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free and break every yoke. We are told to share our bread with the hungry, help shelter the poor who are cast out and have no place to go, to clothe those that need it and stop turning a blind eye from those in want. (Is. 58:6,7). When we do something kind for someone that cannot repay us, God breaks through as the Lord of Breakthrough on our behalf. Read His promise in the next verses of Is. 58:8,9. “Then your light shall break forth like the morning; your healing shall spring forth speedily and your righteousness shall go before you. The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call and the Lord will answer; you shall cry and He will say, “Here I AM.” I can tell you from experience this really works. We have many testimonies of sacrificial giving triggering a breakthrough!
Pray: Today I ask You, Father, to give me inspired ideas, creative ideas that are anointed for breakthrough. Lead me to those that You want me to do something for, and help me understand their need. Help me to ‘pay it forward’ and be a blessing to others. Help me to inspire others to do the same. Lord, let my faith be contagious to others! I thank You in advance for divine connections, inspired ideas, and courage to step out in new ways of faith. In Jesus name, Amen.