Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Bow My Knees to the Father

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
(Ephesians 3:14-19)

As I was studying this Scripture, I realized there was a progression of faith represented that culminates with "being filled with all the fullness of God."

It begins with prayer, "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father..." I can testify that my faith-walk soared to new heights when I began to daily kneel in prayer. Literally kneel. There is something about kneeling that directly reflects our own recognition of God's authority in our life. It seems that the words of our prayers may be the same, but the spirit behind the words changes.

"I bow my knees before the Father...so that He would grant you...to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man..."


"...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;"

Our faith is meant to grow, to develop. God intends for our faith to become mighty by His power - so that Christ might dwell richly in us. When Christ dwells richly in our hearts through faith, we are ROOTED - we are GROUNDED in love.

This is a vital principle in our journey. When we are rooted in LOVE, we are strong. What is, no - WHO is - love? God. When we are rooted in Him, we are strong like the giant oak living by the stream. When the harsh winds blow, that tree ain't going nowhere!! It just bends and sways with the stormy dance. It is not affected by the drought because its roots tap into a constant, steady flow of life-giving water. It is strong and sure. And it offers shade to others who swelter in the noonday sun.

And what is the result of Christ dwelling RICHLY in us?

We know Him.
Yes, we KNOW Him!

We know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge - we comprehend its width and length and depth and height...

How can we KNOW something that surpasses knowledge? Because we know it in our hearts where Christ dwells richly, not with head knowledge. We know it personally, not just because someone told us it was so.

Know. Ginoske (ghin-oce-koe). This means "to recognize and understand the truth by personal experience." This is a whole different ballgame than to understand intellectually. This "knowing" comes by faith and faith by the Word of God.

The knowledge of His love becomes part of who we are. It resonates like a steady drumbeat into the surrounding darkness. This knowledge changes, renews and transforms us - fills us with all the fullness of God. This personal knowledge of His love draws others to Him.

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father...that He would grant you...to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in Your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love...may know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

Line upon line. Precept upon precept. That's how we build a house on a sure foundation.

Father, Thank You for teaching us. We want to know You, Lord...really KNOW You, not just about You. We bow before You and ask that You grant us to be strengthened with might through Your Spirit in the inner man. Lord, we want to be filled with the fullness of Your Holy Spirit. Hear our cry, Father. Draw us to You.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Lord, Our Refuge

"The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your Name will put their trust in You; for you, Lord have not forsaken those who seek You."(Psalm 9:6)

These words bring great comfort to me because of the perilous times in which we live. Security as we have known it is no more. Our country is at a crossroads. Unemployment, homelessness and crime are all on the rise. People are without hope; despair has become the norm.


But, this scripture promises me that the Lord is my refuge, a refuge in times of trouble. "He is a stabilizing force for Believers in the midst of the uncertain times of this present age." (commentary, The Spirit Filled Life Bible)

Do you know His Name? Not just literally. But, do you KNOW the One behind the Name? He is our Provider, our Healer. He is the God Who Sees, the Lord our Peace. He is our Shepherd, our Righteousness and The Everlasting God. He IS...

"And those who KNOW Your name will put their trust in You; for you Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You."

Thank You, Father! You are the God Who changes not! When everything around us is falling apart, You, Lord are steady, secure, constant. That gives me great peace. Lord, You are our source and You will never fail us. We can depend on You. We can trust You in all things. Praise You and bless Your Holy Name!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Unconditional Love

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
(John 3:16)

This beloved verse feels good like a fleece blanket on a chilly afternoon, doesn't it? Most of us can quote it in our sleep. Even those who don't believe seem to know these words, or at least have been made aware of them.

Sometimes familiarity can have a numbing effect - the powerful becomes the mundane, the essence of God can become merely words on a page.

I don't want this to happen to me or you. Neither does the Lord.

Let's break it down and renew the wonderment of the first time we heard this life-changing Truth.

"For God so loved the world..."

This love is referring to agape (ag-ah-pay) love. This love is unconditional. It always seeks the highest good of the other person, no matter what he/she does. Agape love is self-giving love that gives freely without asking for anything in return. Agape love is a love by choice.

"For God so loved the world..."

God had not given up on His creation! Throughout history, the Creator was hurt, offended and angered by His people, but He never gave up on them. Even though the children of God continuously broke the covenant, God, in His infinite mercy, never did. Yet, He acknowledged that His people could not walk in righteousness on their own. The daily blood sacrifices of animals achieved their atoning work only for a moment - the effect of the sacrifice remained external, not life-changing. The atoning of sin for the purpose of righteous had to be complete because God, our Father, longed to be with His creation.

In His mercy, God found a way to create an inner work, a work of righteousness where He could dwell within His beloved children. His Son, the perfect Lamb of God would atone for our sins once and for all, bathing us in His Holy blood, making a way for us to commune with the Father. It would be a new work, a work of the God-Head - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God gave His Son, His only Son...His beloved Son.

Isaiah 9:6 reads, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His Name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

And His Name shall be called Jesus.

And He would suffer and die on the old rugged cross - the ultimate altar of sacrifice - so that whoever believed that He was the Son of God - fully God and fully man - so that WHOEVER believed this would never die but live from everlasting to everlasting.

Believing in Jesus would mean more than standing on church doctrine or traditions of religious law. No. History was turning a corner.

Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is pisteuo (pist-yoo-oh) meaning "to trust in, be fully convinced of, have faith in." Pisteuo expresses "reliance upon and such deep trust in", that this belief produces obedience to the authority and Lordship of Jesus Christ.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Jesus. There is something about that Name.

Thank You, Father. Thank You for Your love and Your mercy. Thank You for Your persistence, for never giving up on us. And most of all, thank You for Jesus, our Savior, Redeemer, Prince of Peace and Lord. Your ways are higher than our ways, Your thoughts are not our thoughts. And Your plan of salvation is perfect and entire. Thank You, Lord.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

How Many Times Have I Missed God?

"Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, 'I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.' So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said, 'Here I am.'
(Exodus 3:1-4)

Moses was going about his daily routine. He was tending his father-in-law's sheep, leading them to the back of the desert over by Mt. Horeb. His feet were encrusted with the desert dust; his brow glistened with sweat from the blistering heat of the sun.

Just another routine day.

"Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the middle of a bush."

Apparently, it was not unusual to see a dried up bush catch fire by spontaneous combustion in the desert. This was a direct result of the intense heat and blaze of the sun.

But this bush wasn't burning!

The next verse makes me laugh: "Then Moses said, 'I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.'"

Who was he talking to? Nobody there, Moses, but a bunch of sheep and they couldn't care less!

Can't you just see Moses straightening himself, dusting his clothing - looking just as dignified and intelligent as possible - then, very matter-of-fact, speaking to himself, "Ummm...I think I'll just turn around now to see this burning bush that is not burning!"

How funny! God definitely has a sense of humor when it comes to His children.

But verse four drives my point home. "So when The Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him..."

What would have happened if Moses had been so deep in thought that he walked right past the bush thinking it was just your typical desert fire? What if he was irritable or mulling over an argument with his wife, Zipporah and not paying attention? What if he was just in a hurry to get the sheep where they needed to be so he could call it a day?

What if?

I have to wonder. How many times have I missed God because I was so caught up in my own little world that I forgot that He is an ever-present God? Have I missed opportunities because He was waiting for me to turn and acknowledge Him? Did my pride stand in the way of responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit?

God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Just saying...

Father, I am so thankful that You are merciful and long-suffering with Your children. I am saddened at the thought of missing You in my everyday life. Open our eyes that we might see! Open our ears that we might hear!! Help us to think of you at the rising of the sun and the going down of the same. Help us remember You throughout the day, to look for You in the mundane routines of life. Give us expectant hearts. Here I am, Lord.

Friday, August 27, 2010


"Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
(Colossians 3:16,17)

The book of Colossians was written by Paul to the Church at Colosse because of widespread false teachings that attempted to blend pagan doctrines into their newly found Christian faith. These folks were babes in Christ - their faith was not yet grounded, so they were vulnerable to false teaching. These false teachings eroded the Lordship of Jesus Christ. These teachings taught that Jesus was not fully God and fully man, but just merely a great teacher or prophet who bridged the gap between God and the world. Because the Believers at Colosse were young in their faith, they were easily swayed by these "sound good/feel good" doctrines. Paul wrote to correct them and to encourage them in the Truth of God's love.

In many ways, the Believers at Colosse were no different than many of us. They believed the teachings of Jesus. God had poured a measure of faith into their hearts, breathed life into their spirits...Yet, they were easily swayed by the surrounding religions and philosophies of their day.

How can we prevent the same dilemma in our lives?

This scripture in Colossians exhorts us to, "Let the Word of Christ dwell richly in you."

Let. Key word.

We all must hunger for the Word of God and feast on it daily. LET it occupy you, fill you up to overflowing. LET it abound in your life, embellishing your Light like a precious jewel. LET the Word bear fruit in your life. Welcome the Word of God with an open heart and you will never be the same.

If you have never spent much time in the Word, that's OK. Every great adventure begins with that first step. Ask the Lord to stir up that hunger and thirst for Him. Ask Him to open the eyes of your understanding. That's what I do. Find a great bible - one you can understand. I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but...the King James Version, as beautiful and poetic as it is, is a translation! Jesus did not speak King James English. He spoke Aramaic and Hebrew. Most of the New Testament was written in Greek. Ask the Lord for discernment, then find a bible that you want to devour!

Sit at the feet of Jesus. LET Him teach you. LET Him change you.

LET Him dwell richly in you.

An exhilarating journey of faith awaits you.

Lord, I yield my spirit to You. Transform me, renew and restore me by the power of Your Word. I don't want anything to stand between me and You. I want You to dwell richly, completely in me. Help me surrender all to You, Lord. Open the eyes of our understanding that we might love You more. You are awesome, Lord. Praise Your Name!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Miracle of Miracles

"Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for 12 years and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched the hem of His garment. For she said, 'If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.' Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up and she felt in her body that she was healed of the suffering. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched My clothes?' But His disciples said to Him 'You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?' And He looked around to see who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the truth. And He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.'"
(Mark 5:25-34)

I have always loved this passage of Scripture. And, like many others, have often wondered how Jesus knew the specific moment the woman touched Him because she only touched the hem of His garment, not His body. And, all of this took place in the midst of a throng of people!

I cannot wait to share with you what the Lord showed me!

Are you ready?

I wondered why she touched the HEM of His garment. A cross reference took me to Numbers 15:38-41. The Lord is speaking to Moses, "Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners (along the hem) of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them...and be holy for your God. I AM the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I AM the Lord your God."

According to Jewish custom and religious law, the men wore an upper garment folded into a quadrangular shape. Tassels were put on each of these corners to remind them to do God's will. I believe this may be referring to what we know as the Jewish prayer shawl. The prayer shawl was (and is) worn over the head and shoulders during prayer in the synagogue, but it remained on their person at all times. A tradition you may not be familiar with is a garment, rectangular in shape with a hole cut out for the head. This is worn, even today, over the outer garment to remind the Jewish man, to follow God's commandments. A tassel is on each corner, two hang in the front and two in the back symbolizing north, south, east and west - God is everywhere. I believe this is the garment Jesus was wearing, otherwise the woman would have had to fall to the ground in order to touch the hem of His robe.

Why would God require a blue thread placed in each tassel?

In the tabernacle, blue was the color which symbolized the One True God. It reminded the Jews of the heavens. When they looked up into the blue sky, their gaze carried them to thoughts of their Creator.

Isn't this fascinating? Oh, how I love the Word of God!

OK...back to our Scripture passage.

The woman knew that if she touched the hem of His garment, she would be made whole. I now believe that is because the garment represented the Word (the Law) of Almighty God! Remember? The tassels were put on the hem so that His children would know and remember that He is Holy and that He is the One who delivered them out of Egypt!!

She knew His garment represented God's covenant with her. It represented His Word.

That bears repeating: She knew His garment represented God's covenant with her. It represented His Word.

Who is the Word of God? Jesus!!
A little bit louder now...Who is the Word of God? JESUS!!

That's how Jesus felt the power go out of Him when she touched His garment. She was desperately reaching out to God's "Word" and His "Word" realized it!

It makes total sense to me now.

In verse 34 Jesus said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace..."

The actual concept of faith here comes from the Greek word, pistis (pis-tis) meaning "confidence, persuasion, reliance in God and all that He says." The woman knew she could rely on God's Word and now, miracle of miracles, she had met God's Word in the flesh and He had made her whole.

Child, reach out and touch the hem of His garment and be made whole. You can fully rely on God's Word. He IS the One Who has delivered you. He IS the Lord your God.

Praise You, Lord! I get so excited when You show me something new in Your Word! Thank You Father. It is my prayer that others will catch this excitement which You have ignited in me and share the sheer joy of finding hidden treasures in Your Word, like the one today. Your Word is alive. It satisfies the longing soul and sets the captives free. Thank You, Lord.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Circle of Love

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"
(1 John 5:3-5)

The phrase that caught my attention in this verse is "and His commandments are not burdensome." Let's all face it, sometimes they are! I'm not just thinking about the Ten Commandments; I'm thinking about those nudges and promptings of the Holy Spirit. You know, that still, small voice that carries a LOT of authority!

If I am walking by SIGHT and not by faith, His commandments can be burdensome!
If I am walking in the FLESH and not in the Spirit, they are definitely burdensome!

As I studied this verse, and asked God for insight, I realized that it reads like an equation and ultimately forms a type of circle.

Let's look at it and try to break it down:

Love of God = keeping His commandments (obedient heart)
An obedient heart = an overcomer
An overcomer = having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ = the Love of God

Do you see how it all works together? God's formula is perfect - complete. Our Heavenly Father KNOWS that we cannot walk in righteousness in our own strength. That's why He covered all the bases for us. We are His creation, His handiwork...His child. We are sealed in His love.

God has required of us to be "IN this world, but not OF this world", right?

Have you tried this lately? It can be very difficult. Being "SET APART" requires sacrifice but, my oh my, what blessings untold are poured out upon us when we keep His commandments because of our love for Him.

How do we keep His commandments? Love Him.

When we love Him and have an obedient heart which keeps His commandments, what happens? We become overcomers.

What is the key ingredient to being an overcomer? Having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Who is Jesus? The Son of God, the ultimate expression of God's love.

Can you see the circle? It BEGINS with the love of God and it ENDS with the Love of God.

In John 15:9 Jesus is speaking, "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love."

Abide in My love. LIVE WITHIN MY LOVE!

In your mind form the circle of God's love based on 1 John 5:3-5 (today's verse). Now place yourself in the center. Can you see it?

The center of God's love...safe and secure from all life's harms; A place where His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

A circle of love.
Kind of like a wedding band.

Hmmm...A circle of love = covenant love.

Lord, Your ways are perfect. Thank You. Thank You for making a way for us to live according to Your will. Your Truth is so simple and yet powerful, profound and life-changing. Help us see the picture of living within the circle of Your love - Your covenant love. Thank you Lord. We love You and give You praise!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The One Who Guards You

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills - from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore."
(Psalm 121)

Psalm 121 is immersed in the language of God's care for us. The words keep and preserve are used six times and are virtually interchangeable.

The Hebrew word for preserve is shamar (shah-mar) meaning, "to guard, keep, protect, watch over, care for." A derivative of shamar is shomer meaning, "guardian". The Lord is called "shomer Yisrael", "One who guards Israel".

The Guardian of Israel. That is literal. Our Jewish brothers and sisters are God's covenant people. But, remember, we are grafted in as the children of Israel, so this concept applies to us as well.

I'm not a Hebrew scholar, but I think it is safe to say, "He is my shomer Nan", the "One who guards Nan." Place your name there. Can you feel the love?

Wow! He is MY guardian, my keeper, my preserver.

And...He never sleeps nor slumbers.

Jude 24 reads, "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the Presence of His glory with exceeding joy..."

He promises to KEEP us, PRESERVE us and GUARD us until that glorious day when we will be presented before our King.

Bless You, Lord! How can we fathom the depth of Your love for us? How can we understand what it means to be kept by You? Help us, Lord. Open our eyes to see Your truth. Soften our hearts to receive Your love. You, Lord - the Guardian of Israel - guard, protect and preserve us, too. Thank You, Father.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Active, Energetic Resistance to Defeat

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
(Hebrews 12:1,2)

"...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus..

Looking unto Jesus. Oh my goodness. Take hold of this, friends.

You have probably heard this before but, it is worth repeating: In a horse race, the horses wear blinders which prevent them from seeing anything other than what is directly in front of them. The blinders eliminate distractions, prevent annoyances or fearful influences. All the horse can see is the path before him - AND - he receives his instructions from his "master" who sees the entire track.


When we take His hand in covenant relationship, our life is no longer our own - it belongs to our glorious Savior. We are instructed to "run the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus." The race we run is not coincidental. It is not happenstance or a lucky draw. The race before US has been SET before us by the Lord our Maker. It is the path He has chosen for us so that we might fulfill the purposes of our life. And He requires that we cling to that path of righteousness with endurance.

I looked up the definition of endurance or endures. The Greek word for endures is hupomeno (hoop-ahm-en-oh) meaning to "hold one's ground in conflict, bear up under adversity, stand firm or persevere under pressure". That's the definition you would expect, right? But there's more. Listen to this...Endurance "is not passive resignation to fate and mere patience, but the active, energetic resistance to defeat that allows calm and brave endurance." (The Spirit Filled Life Bible)

Again. "Endurance is not passive resignation to fate and mere patience, but the active, energetic resistance to defeat that allows calm and brave endurance."

This is how we run the race and receive the prize of the High Calling of Jesus Christ! We fix our eyes on Jesus - no distractions, no looking left and right - we focus on Him. We lay aside any weight or sin that holds us back and we run the race with endurance.

Jesus ENDURED the cross because of the joy set before Him. The journey to the cross was His race, the path set before HIM. And He endured it because our salvation was His prize.

Jesus understands how difficult the race can be - He ran it, too.

Endure. Hupomeno (hoop-ahm-en-oh). Did anyone besides me notice that, phonetically, the center of hupomeno is ahm-en, as in amen?

Run your race with endurance.

Amen? Amen. So be it.

Lord, Thank You for this lesson. Help us to take hold of this heavenly principle. Help us to remember that we have a race to run and that victory is ours as we follow Your instructions to focus on You and run with endurance. You clearly tell us how to live this life You have given us. Forgive us for being so stubborn and such proud know-it-alls. You, Lord, are the Master!! You guide us on this journey as we focus on You and trust You for each step we take. Thank You for Your gift of grace.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Have Come Because of Your Words

"Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands, and he said to me, 'O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright for I have now been sent to you.' While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me, 'Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia'...Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, 'O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!'"
(Daniel 10:10-13,18,19)

Verse 2 of this chapter states, "In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks" - 21 days!! That's how long it took for the angel to reach him! Not only was he mourning, but during these 21 days, Daniel was also praying and fasting.

Several years ago, I read Frank Peretti's book, "Piercing the Darkness". This book dealt with the topic of spiritual warfare. Although its pages were filled with fictional brilliance, every word was founded on biblical truth.

And the truth is? The truth is we "do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but with principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12)

It is foolish for Christians to walk in denial or ignorance of this truth!

AND, just as surely as there are demons - principalities of darkness - there are armies of angels standing ready to defend and protect us.

Daniel 10 beautifully illustrates this. Please, allow yourself to picture the exchange between Daniel and his heavenly messenger. Ask God to open your eyes that you might see...

Verse 12 reads, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words." The angel is in direct response to Daniel's cry. God sent this angel to strengthen and encourage Daniel. Do you recall why the angel was delayed?

Verse 13, "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia (a principality of darkness) withstood me twenty-one days..."!!!

I know it is hard to wrap our brains around this imagery, but either we believe the Word of God is true, or we don't.

I choose to believe.

Therefore, I know in my spirit that God my Father wants me to understand the seriousness of and the reality of spiritual warfare. The angel was delayed 21 days because he was embattled with an evil force - 21 days while Daniel prayed!

What if Daniel had stopped praying? What if he said, "Forget this, God. I don't see anything changing!" Would that have made a difference? Would the angel have made a breakthrough in his battle with the prince of Persia? OR would the angel have suffered defeat because Daniel stopped praying?

We must never discount the power of prayer.

I have learned that when you think God is doing nothing, that is when he is doing the most! It took the angel 21 days to get to Daniel because of the spiritual warfare. How often have we waited for God's intervention, only to become distracted by the frustration of the seeming silence or impatient with the slow progress? And in the distraction ceased to pray.

Consider this. The Word clearly states that God hears us when we call - He does not turn a deaf ear to our need. Do you believe that? I do. We must understand that the principalities of darkness oppose God's purposes and that our earthly struggles often reflect what is happening in the heavenlies - spiritual warfare.

"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."


Lord God, WHEW!! This is not something your dignified, sophisticated Body of Christ wants to think about, but, Lord, this is Your Truth. Satan would have us believe this is just a little too weird to digest. That's exactly where Satan wants us to stay - bogged down in analysis rather that reading Your Word, believing Your Word and doing Your Word. Lord, forgive us our pride!! Open our eyes that we might see Your Truth and walk in Your Truth. Please take the blinders off. Fill us with your knowledge so that we might walk in victory, hand in hand with You. Thank You, Lord.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Great and Awesome God is Among You

"If you should say in your heart, 'These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?' - you shall not be afraid of them, but you shall remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: The great trials which your eyes saw, the signs and the wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. So shall the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. Moreover the Lord your God will send the hornet among them until these who are left, who hide themselves from you, are destroyed. You shall not be terrified of them, for the Lord your God, the great and awesome God is among you."
(Deuteronomy 7:17-21)

In the literal sense, this passage in Deuteronomy is concerning actual nations who are strong enemies against God's people, Israel.

But, I want you to think outside the box.

We know that the Old Testament is a direct parallel to our walk of faith. Egypt represents our life before Christ when we were in bondage to sin. God delivered us as He did Israel. He was in covenant with them just as He is in covenant with us. Therefore, the Old Testament is totally relevant to us today. You need only ask the Lord to open the eyes of your understanding.

Verse 17 reads, "If you should say in your heart, 'These nations are greater than I, how can I dispossess them?'"

What are the enemies in your life? I have several: anxiety, depression, low self-esteem...These are enemies that have a stronghold in my life. There are others that come and go like an evil tide, such as financial crises or health problems. But, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem seem to have a hold on me.

They are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?

First, I don't need to be afraid or intimidated by them. I am a child of God. I am hid in Christ. Second, the scripture tells me to remember well what the Lord my God did to deliver me from the wages of sin, to break the chains that held me captive. He has set me free!!

Free! Why, oh why, would I want to go back to Egypt? Why would you?

Look at verse 20, "Moreover the Lord your God will send the hornet among them until those who are left, who hide themselves from you, are destroyed"

I wanted to understand this, so I asked the Lord. Hornet is tsi'rah (see-raw) in Hebrew. It literally means hornet or wasp but it is derived from the root word tsara' (saw-rah) meaning to scourge. To scourge is to inflict pain or punishment; to devastate.

This tells me that my enemies, who occasionally hide themselves from me until they sense my vulnerability - those enemies will be destroyed, devastated by the Lord Himself, when I trust Him with my whole heart, when I walk with Him in obedience and righteousness.

I do not need to be terrified of my enemies because, "the Lord my God, the great and AWESOME God, is with me."

Neither shall you be afraid. Take His hand and walk in victory.

Lord, Your Word is strong and powerful to save. Your Word promises that You will destroy my enemies as I submit my life to You. It is true, You ARE an awesome God. I love You, Lord. Have Your way in me and tear down the strongholds in my life that hold me back from being all I can be for You. Praise Your Holy Name, Lord!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Heaven is Near When I Think Of You

"I will praise You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your Name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is beyond our understanding...I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts and I will declare Your greatness. They shall eagerly utter the memory of your great goodness, and shall sing of Your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works...The Lord upholds all who fall and raises up all who are bowed down with toil, disease or poverty. The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth."
(Psalm 145:1-3,5-9,14-18)

As I'm typing this devotional, I am listening to a song by Michelle Tumes. She is repeatedly singing, "O Lord, heaven will be near me when I think of You."

Maybe that's why I was drawn to this Psalm today. It is a Hymn of Praise by David and it caused me to think of my gracious Lord.

For some reason, today has been one of those days. But, as I read these words of praise, my spirit was encouraged.

It is my prayer that God's Holy Word will lift you with the wings of eagles and strengthen you, as well.

O, Lord, heaven is near me when I think of you.

Joy. Blessed joy.

I need You, Lord. I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord! Thank You for encouraging me and for setting my feet on high. You are greatly to be praised. Thank You for upholding me and for raising me up when I am bowed down from the burdens of life. I love You, Lord. Your mercy and grace are amazing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because he first loved us."
(1 John 4:18,19)

This is one of my go-to verses when I feel overwhelmed or fearful - this is a promise I cling to...

"There is NO FEAR in love; but PERFECT LOVE casts out fear."

Amen! The next phrase says, "because fear involves torment."

Ain't it the truth! When fear grips you it suffocates; it clinches you with its deadly pinions, blinding you with its threatening glare. Fear separates you from your confidence in God's abilities.

2 Timothy 1:7 reads, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

God has not given us a spirit of fear!
His perfect love CASTS out fear!

Think on these things when the torment of fear rears its ugly head.

His perfect love is within you.

Praise You, Father! Your love means so much to me. Thank You. It quiets me when I feel afraid; it gives me confidence and reminds me that You are with me. I appreciate that so much. Remind me to quickly take authority over the spirit of fear when it seeks to overwhelm me because greater are You that is in me than he that is in the world. I can see Your mighty hand casting the fear away from me like a giant stone. Yes, Lord, I can see that clearly and I thank You for it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Can See His Face

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
(Matthew 5:8)

The Lord drew me to this passage and I'm sure He wants to show us something.

Quite often I pray, "Lord, let me see Your face." Or I encourage others, "to look into the face of Jesus." After all, He says in Psalm 27:8, "Seek My face."

I realize this is almost hypothetical in nature because we are not physically capable of surviving such a divine encounter. And yet, the Lord our God says, "Seek My face" and He promises that we will see Him, if we are pure in heart.

It would be easy to dismiss this promise into the realms of eternity - waiting for the sweet by and by - but somehow I feel as though the Lord wants us to apply this right now.

The Greek word for pure is katharos (kath-ar-oss) meaning "clean, clear, pure". I also looked this word up in Roget's Thesaurus and found descriptive words like pristine, refined, snowy, spotless and stainless.

"Blessed are the PURE in heart."

I believe the pure in heart is the one who has surrendered his/her life to Jesus Christ and not only received forgiveness and cleansing of sin, but also has said, "Jesus, make me more like You."

One of the descriptive words for pure is refined. Immediately, I thought of the refiner's fire - the consuming fire of God that burns away impurities in our soul creating a pure heart. Anyone who says, "Lord, make me more like You" has experienced the refiner's fire.

What about snowy? Spotless?

Isaiah 1:18 reads, "'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.'"

Ephesians 5:27 states, "That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she (the Church) should be holy and without blemish."

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall SEE God."

Although I have never seen the actual face of God, I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I have spent time in His Presence, surrounded by His glory. Did it just happen? No.

I experience His Presence when I take time to seek HIM, not what He can do for me.

I experience His Presence when I fall on my knees, confessing my sins and ask Him to create a clean heart in me.

I experience His Presence after I have been in the refiner's fire surrendering myself in such a way that I allow Him to burn away the chafe, the impurities that dim my Light - those things that separate me from my God.

And in His Presence, in my spirit, I can see His face - the One that exudes abounding love for me, His Child.

I love You, Lord. Thank You for Your Presence in my life. Thank You for showing me Your glory, for showing me the essence of Who You are. I worship You, Lord. You are precious.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"No, Lord!" in the Same Breath?

"Then Jesus came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, 'Lord, are You washing my feet?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.' Peter said to Him, 'You shall never wash my feet!' Jesus answered him, 'If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.' Simon Peter said to him, 'Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!'"
(John 13:6-9)

Peter said to Jesus, "You shall never wash my feet!" In essence, he said, "No, Lord!"

Peter had a lesson to learn. Jesus wanted him to understand that a disciple of Jesus Christ cannot say, "No, Lord!" in the same breath. The words 'No' and 'Lord' cancel out each other.

Let me explain.

If the Lord asks you to do something and your answer is "No!", then He is not your Lord. Right? You cannot give Jesus the title 'Lord' while saying 'no' to the things He asks of you. Doing so strips Him of the authority in Your life.

Does that make sense? It's actually pretty simple - I didn't say painless - but, this is a very simple truth. There is a vast difference between calling Jesus, "Savior" and calling Him, "Lord".

When we ask Him to be Lord, we recognize His supreme authority over us and we set our hearts and minds to obey Him. He is not a beautiful concept and something we do on Sunday mornings. He is Lord of lords, Master of the Universe!

That's what Peter had to come to terms with. Jesus said to him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with me." And Peter very enthusiastically replied, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"

Peter learned his lesson.
Jesus wanted to be Lord over ALL things pertaining to Peter.

And, Jesus wants all of you, too.

Jeremiah 7:23 reads, "But this is what I commanded them, saying, "Obey My voice and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you."

Take my life, Lord and let me be found in You.

Lord, We use that powerful title so easily, as though it were some trivial tidbit of knowledge. Forgive us, Lord. How Your children must sadden and frustrate You with their self-righteous notions! Forgive us!! Cleanse us, Lord and help us bring honor and glory to Your Name. I want to walk in the knowledge that You are Lord, consistently and without question. Help Your children to no longer be naive about Your authority. Open our eyes, Lord that we might see Your truth.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Therefore I Hope in Him!

"This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!"
(Lamentations 3:21-24)

The children of Israel were in a tough place because of their own doing. They sinned against their God and now they were suffering because of it. God was dealing with their spiritual condition.

Chapter 3 of Lamentations begins with a pity-party by Jeremiah, the Prophet, "I am the man who has seen the affliction by the rod of His wrath...He has made me walk in darkness and not in light...He has aged my flesh and surrounded me with bitterness and weariness..."

Whoa! (Or maybe it should be, Woe!) Have you ever sounded like that? I have. How sad, but how true.

But then, look what Jeremiah did beginning in verse 21, "This I recall to my mind, THEREFORE I have hope."

WHAT does he recall?

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness."

Jeremiah REMEMBERED the Lord's mercies!

The Hebrew word for mercies is hesed (heh-said) meaning "covenant love."

COVENANT love. I treasure this! "Through the Lord's COVENANT LOVE we are not consumed..."

God cannot help but love His children because of the covenant that links us together, "I will be your God and You will be My people." His covenant love (mercies) is also related to His attributes of compassion, steadfastness, truth, faithfulness and goodness.

And for these reasons, Jeremiah had hope.

What is the take-away? Notice the progression of Jeremiah's response to his desperate situation. First, he had a pity-party. Then he took authority over his thoughts and began to remind himself of God's mercy. Next, Jeremiah spoke directly to the Lord, "Great is Your faithfulness." And lastly, his soul took hold of the truth...

"The Lord is my portion (my inheritance)," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!"

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

Bless You, Lord! Thank You for Your covenant Love, for Your faithfulness!! You are an amazing God and I love You. Help us take hold of what it means to be in covenant with You, to understand that You are our portion - our inheritance. Wow!! Sometimes I think it is bigger than we can grasp. Thank You for sharing a small part of this enormous truth with us through this lesson. I ask You to let it take root and bear fruit in our lives for Your glory.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What Are Your Expectations of God?

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
(Matthew 11:28-30

For the first time, I have realized the context in which these compelling, precious words of Jesus were spoken. He was addressing the multitudes who followed Him from city to city. At the beginning of Chapter 11, John the Baptist, who was in prison, was needing reassurance from Jesus. John sent two of the disciples to ask Jesus (11:2,3), "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"

I have to be honest, that had never stopped me in my tracks before now.

John the Baptist knew who the Messiah was and yet, he seemed to have had a moment of doubt because he had been expecting a grand end-of-the-world day of Judgment since Jesus began ministering. After all, Jesus was the Messiah! Apparently, even John had expectations of God's Chosen One.


Jesus answered John's question by referring back to the prophet Isaiah, "The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them." (11:5) In other words, the works of Christ are a direct fulfillment of Isaiah's prophesy, so..."What's the problem, John?"

I wonder - I said, I WONDER because I certainly don't KNOW this - but, I WONDER if Jesus felt a certain measure of frustration because in the following verses He offers the reminder that John fulfills the prophesy in Malachi 3:1, "Behold, I send My messenger and He will prepare the way before Me." And then Jesus begins to rebuke the cities where He had done His greatest works and yet the people refused to repent. They were determined to hold onto their religious laws.

You might say, they, too had their own expectations of God's Chosen One.

Then I notice that Jesus begins to pray (11:25). I believe the timing of this prayer was to calm Himself down after such a strong rebuke of the rebellious, religious people. He thanks His Father for "hiding spiritual truths from the wise and for revealing them" to the simple-minded.

Oh my goodness! Jesus is calm again and, possibly, God has revealed to Him the crux of the matter. The Jews had certain expectations for their Messiah and so, even those that are eager to find the truth, are having to come to terms with, and let go of, their life-long teachings.

Jesus tells them, "Come to Me. I will give you rest from your burden of upholding religious Law. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. Beloved, My yoke is easy."

Do you see it? Jesus is saying, "Come to Me. Enter into a relationship with your God. It is open. It is free and it is Truth."

His YOKE is the RELATIONSHIP we have with Him.
And He promises His yoke is easy.

Want to know what that means?

Easy. Chrestos (Khrase-toss) meaning useful, pleasant, good or comfortable. The existing religious system up to this point was all Law - it carried a very heavy burden. No one could possibly meet all of its requirements, yet, that was the only way people could atone for their sins. But Jesus said, "My yoke, which leads you in obedience to God, is comfortable. It will not chafe or cause painful places for your soul. It will not weigh you down. No, it will set you free. My yoke fits you because my Father Who is the Lord God, fashioned it just for you. He created you to fit perfectly together with Me in relationship through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

"So Child, come unto Me and I will give you rest from your labor. I will refresh you with My Living Water."

"And when the road is hard, I will carry you."

Wow, Lord! This one was a little deep, but I understand it so much more now. Thank You for teaching us. Thank You for showing us Your Truth. Yes, Your yoke - Your plan of salvation - is easy. It really is all about relationship with You. And it is free and good and comfortable. Thank You Father!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Vessel of Honor for Him

"But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand."
(Isaiah 64:8)

I would like for you to pause a moment, then read this passage again, slowly. This is the image of a relationship - a divine relationship, a relationship of purpose, a relationship of love.

Yes, love.

Love sees potential. Love is patient and kind. God's love molds us and makes us into a vessel of honor for Him - a vessel that He can fill with His love and that we, in turn, can pour out into the world around us.

The following is a poem written by a dear friend of mine, Mid Stutsman. I think her reflective words say it all.

The Potter's Hands

There I lay, on the Potter's wheel
Just a lump of clay, yielded, still
Patiently waiting, until I'd feel
The touch of His loving hands!

But, was this His "love"? I wanted to know
As I fell to the wheel, blow by blow
My very heart and thoughts exposed
When He took me into his loving hands!

Then He showed me what was going on
As He took out imperfections, one by one
The molding and shaping had only begun
By those ever loving hands!

So all the while, as the Potter worked
Though progress was slow, and the process hurt
I knew better than my own will to assert
For they were strong, those loving hands!

And I found it wise to be meek and contrite
Just letting Him do what He knew was right
So I'd be a vessel of honor in His sight
When He was through with His loving hands!

Amen? A vessel of honor for Him.

Father, I can see this so clearly. I can picture my life - the lump of clay - placed ever so gently on "Your potter's wheel". I can feel the embrace of Your hands as You mold me and make me into Your vessel to be used for Your glory. I want my vessel to be strong and powerful. I want it to be pure so that Your Holy Spirit feels comfortable within. Thank You for Your patience and thank You so much, Lord, for Your love.

Friday, August 13, 2010

To Stretch Like a Rope

"For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth."
(Psalm 71:5)

I love this powerful declaration of David, "For YOU are my hope, O Lord God!"

The Hebrew word used in this passage for 'hope' is tiqvah (teek-vah) meaning "expectation, something yearned for and anticipated eagerly."

Surely we can all relate to this definition. It gives us greater understanding into our relationship with God. This is a beautiful way to express the yearning in our heart as we wait on Him.

But I found something even better!
Are you ready?

In its most original form, tiqvah (hope) meant "to stretch like a rope."

Do you remember the story of Rahab found in Joshua 2? Joshua sent two men into Jericho to check it out before the Israelites invaded. The men chose to stay in the house of a harlot named Rahab because there would be a lot of traffic in and out of that house (if you know what I mean). But someone told the king of Jericho about their presence in the city and where they were staying. So the king sent men to find the Israeli spies. Rahab hid them because she believed that the God of the Israelites was the One True God.

Imagine that...In His Sovereignty, God led the Israeli spies to the one person in all of Jericho that believed in Him. And I venture to say that He chose someone we would never consider.

Rahab requested that in exchange for her kindness, the spies would protect her and her family during the invasion. She was instructed to "bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down."

Rahab followed their instructions and saved herself and her household. As long as they stayed indoors, they were protected by the SCARLET cord - the Tiqvah!

This cord, or rope, was her hope for deliverance during a perilous time.

My goodness. Did you get that?

I said, "This cord, or rope, was her HOPE for deliverance during a perilous time!"

I am reminded of the saying, "When you get to the end of your rope, just hang on!"

Our HOPE in the Lord our God is that rope!
Our HOPE s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s between our dilemma and the sureness of our Lord
Our HOPE brings us deliverance.
Our HOPE is bathed in the scarlet blood of the One who loves us.

When you are dangling at the end of your rope, look up and see the captivating eyes of your Savior.

Your deliverance draweth nigh.

Father, What a powerful image You have given us. Thank You Lord! Our hope IS in You. Thank You for Your faithfulness, Your patience and Your grace. You are amazing Lord and we love You.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

YOU Are an Epistle of Christ

"You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart."
(2 Corinthians 3:2,3)

Have you ever heard the saying, "You may be the only Bible someone else will ever read"? It is my guess that these words of wisdom came from this passage of Scripture. Who knew?

What a beautiful thought, but one that also requires reflection.

The Apostle Paul is speaking to the new converts in Corinth. As usual, his integrity and sincerity has been challenged by the Pharisees - those who enforce the written code of God's laws, but who have no understanding of the heart of God. Basically Paul is saying that the evidence of changed lives supports the truth of the Gospel.

Changed lives. Think about it.

When someone watches you or listens to you - and you know they do - are they witnessing Christ "with skin on"?

Ouch! I know. That one hurts, but we must consider this.

Paul says, "CLEARLY, you are an epistle of Christ, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the Living God..."

Epistle. Message. Letter.

We are the embodiment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our lives magnify Him to a broken and hurting world.

Or do they?

Paul also says, you are "known and read by all men." "Read" in Greek is anaginosko (an-ag-in-oce-koe) meaning "to know exactly". It also means "to know over and over again, to recognize."

Over and over again. That spoke to me. People are not "reading" us with a quick glimpse. They are "reading" us over and over again. They are looking for consistency, authenticity. Are we genuine? Are we the same Christian everyday of the week as we are on Sundays? What happens when WE are the ones who have been insulted or offended? What do we do when we realize we are at fault or have made mistakes?

Changed lives. Think about it.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

Praise You, Father! That was a hard lesson to take hold of, but I know You want Your children to understand our mission - our purpose. It is so easy to forget that we are representing YOU, not ourselves. Forgive us for when we let you down. Create a clean heart in us, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within us. What a blessed thought to know that we are all equal at the foot of the cross. We ARE Your beacon of Light in the darkness. What an honor and privilege You have given us. Thank You, Lord.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

God's Timing is Everything

"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,'Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel...Then Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, 'Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountains, and see what the land is like...Be of good courage; And bring some of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes."
(Numbers 13:1,17,18,20)

"...Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes."

Friends, God's timing is perfect. The children of Israel were on the brink of inheriting the land God promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:1, "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you..." In pursuit of this promise, Moses had been leading them through the desert for 40 years.

Suffice it to say, the Promised Land had been a mere speck on the horizon of their dreams for a very long time and now...AND NOW...they were close enough to see it and taste its fruit.

I venture to say we are all familiar with the murmuring and complaining - the outright rebellion - of the children of Israel. The stench of their sin nature stunk to high heaven!

I know. I've been there. Bet you have, too.

But here's the take-away...

The children of Israel were so close to Canaan they could taste it!! Moses sent out twelve spies to check out the Promised Land. Ten of them returned with nothing more than more complaints: There are giants! The cities are fortified! It is a land that devours its inhabitants! OR, in our language: We can't afford that! You want me to do what, Lord? There aren't any positions open! I can't even get everything I need at the grocery store, so how do you think I'm gonna pay for a car?

Here's my point. Attitude is everything! I think the ten spies with the bad reports were guilty of murmuring and complaining throughout their journey while Joshua and Caleb had remained faithful and trusting in their God, even when things didn't make sense. So, when these men crossed over to Canaan, what they saw - what they focused on - was determined by the condition of their heart.

And notice God - Who knows all things - sent them into their Promised Land when he knew - HE KNEW - it was the season for fruit.

That's what He does for us. God's timing is not like ours at all! He plants the seeds of promise in our spirit and then HE determines when the season for fruit will be. Our job is to expect the Presence and power of God as we take our steps of faith.

And guard your heart. Keep it clean before Him so you won't miss His miracles in the shadows of the giants.

Be of good courage for the Lord is with you.

Lord, I pray that I am always ready to step into the promises You have given me, to look at the situation through eyes of faith, not unbelief. Keep me ever mindful of Your Presence and Your power, Your faithfulness and Your love. Cleanse me, Lord that I might come boldly before Your throne of grace making my requests known to You. I am very thankful that You have a marvelous plan for my life and each day, as I take Your hand, I am walking through it. I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An Opportunity For God's Grace

"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men."
(Colossians 3:23)

I have tried to live by this verse for many years and felt led to share it with you.

It's really quite simple, yet very profound.

When I do whatever it is I do as unto the Lord, then I am set free of others' expectations. When I perform my tasks as unto the Lord, I find that I am able to rise above the frustrations and criticisms of people. When I do it as unto the Lord, I feel fulfilled and satisfied. Critical words still sting, but I have the opportunity to put things in perspective.

And I have an opportunity to experience God's grace.

People are going to drive you crazy! You can never please everyone all the time - wish we could, but it ain't gonna happen.

But now, your Heavenly Father? He's another story. He is SO blessed by your heart and by your effort. Let this be your service to Him - a form of worship, an expression of gratitude.

And do it heartily - with all your might, full of gusto and enthusiasm! Christians should never do a job halfway. We should never live a life of mediocrity. Live it full of gusto as unto the Lord.

And keep an eye out for some of that amazing grace.

Thank You, Lord. What a joy and an honor it is to do our work as unto You, recognizing that the task was given to us by Your hand in the first place. Forgive us when we get frustrated, resentful or even fearful when the job before us becomes too much to bear. Thank You for Your grace. And thank You for Your love.

Monday, August 9, 2010

His Name is Wonderful!

"Then Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord, 'What is Your name, that when Your words come to pass we may honor You?' And the Angel of the Lord said to him, 'Why do you ask My Name, seeing it is wonderful?' So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering and offered it upon the rock to the Lord. And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on - it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar - the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground."
(Judges 13:17-20)

The Lord led me to this passage concerning the birth of Samson and showed me things I had never paid attention to before. I read through it several times and the thought kept reoccurring: "I AM the same yesterday, today and forever. To him who believes, signs and wonders will follow, for I AM an awesome God."

Well. That was certainly food for thought!

Manoah is Samson's father. He and his wife had no children - she was barren when the Angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, "Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son (13:3). The Angel went on to give Manoah's wife specific instructions, not only for her pregnancy, but also for the child. Then, in verse 5, the Angel of the Lord told her, "...the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."

A Nazarite was a person consecrated - set apart - to God. Remember Samson's long hair and that he wouldn't cut it? That was part of his Nazirite vow - "no razor should come upon his head."

Well, Manoah got pretty excited about this promise from God, as you can easily imagine. Manoah wanted to bless the Angel of the Lord with an offering and in his excitement, he asked the Angel, "What is Your Name that when your words come to pass we may honor You?"

Now the good part...

"The Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, 'Why do you ask My Name, seeing it is wonderful?'" Do you remember one of the Names of the Lord spoken in Isaiah 9:6? One of His many Names is Wonderful! The phrase, "it is wonderful" is an expression meaning "beyond understanding". The Name of the Lord is like that! His Name represents all that He is to His children and He is too wonderful to comprehend!

And then, the Bible says, the Lord did a wondrous thing - the Angel of the Lord ascended toward heaven in the flame of the altar!

Pala' (pah-lah) is the Hebrew word meaning "did a wondrous thing." God performed a miracle before their very eyes. It was something beyond Manoah's and his wife's ability to grasp. It was a marvel, supernatural - a wondrous thing from the God whose Name is wonderful!

So...if He is the same God yesterday, today and forever, should we expect to see Pala' in our lives? Should we see the miraculous Hand of God working in our midst?

I admit, I've never seen the Angel of the Lord ascend to heaven in a flame but, I have experienced strangers showing up on our doorstep with groceries when we had none. I have experienced an angel jerking my car out of the way of a head-on collision. Why, God has even taught me a parable by watching a squirrel hang on to the bird feeder during strong winds. That little squirrel hung on with all fours, determined not to lose its prize.

Yes, God is in the BIG, for sure. But He is in the small interventions as well. We need to only "open our eyes that we might see" and "open our ears that we might hear" His gentle whisper.

And then we need to follow the example of Manoah and his wife.

They recognized the Presence of God and fell on their faces in worship.

Father, indeed, You ARE wonderful - well beyond our comprehension and yet You make Yourself known to us. Thank You! Your interventions are powerful, your provisions perfect and Your voice sweet. May we never, ever forget to look for Your Hand in our lives, to listen for Your voice in the whisper of the trees. Help us to be ever mindful of Your Presence, God and help us to expect Your power and love - your "pala'" each and every day.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

There's a Whole Lot of Shaking Going On!

"Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven."
(Psalm 107:28-30)

Have you noticed there's a whole lot of shaking going on? God is not only saying to His people, "Choose this day whom you will serve," but the world is forcing us to count the cost of our discipleship: are we going to stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ or are we going to cower in the shadows as persecution and ridicule begin to flourish in this, our Christian nation?

Lots of questions.
Lots of observations.
And lots of shaking for the Body of Christ.

I know so many Believers who are on the front lines of battle. Maybe its your marriage, maybe job loss or devastating disease. Perhaps you have a wayward child or depression and anxiety threatens to suffocate you. I know several people who have said, "Yes, Lord, I will stand for righteousness!" only to suffer the consequences.

There's a whole lot of shaking going on!

What does the above Scripture say? Let's read it again.

"Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they (the waves) are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven.

Call out to your Deliverer. He will bring you out of your distresses and calm your storm.

Did you notice what happened next? "He guides them to their desired haven."

Not just any haven...their DESIRED haven.

Haven. A place of rest and refuge.

I am looking forward to that!!

Lord, You are so faithful!! Thank You. I am so thankful that nothing is too difficult for You - not even the hurricanes that blow us every which way but to our knees. Forgive us when we forget that You are our deliverer. When we live within Your love, we are safe from anything life throws at us. What a comforting thought to know that not only will You deliver us, but You will guide us until we reach that peaceful shore. You are wonderful, Lord. I love You!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

He Presents You Blameless Before God

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen."
(Jude 24,25)

Have you ever considered what the complete meaning of the title, Savior is? It comes from the Greek word, soter (so-tare). Soter speaks to a deliverer, preserver, benefactor and rescuer.

Jesus is all these things and more, but I want you to focus on one thing in particular: Verse 24 reads, "Now to Him who is ABLE to keep you from stumbling and to PRESENT YOU FAULTLESS (or blameless) before God's Presence...

Jesus is ABLE - dunamai (doo-nam-ahee)! He has the power, the willingness, the strength and the action to preserve us in our walk of faith, to keep us from stumbling and...what else? He is able to PRESENT US FAULTLESS OR BLAMELESS BEFORE THE PRESENCE OF GOD!!

Take a moment to imagine this.

In my mind I can see Jesus carrying me. The blood stains from His hands rub off onto me, immediately linking me to His sacrifice. The crown of thorns piercing His forehead release the life-giving blood to course down the sides of His face. With my hand, I gently wipe His brow.

And then He kneels.

He kneels, clutching me to His breast. Tilting His head, Jesus smiles and looks up into the brilliant Light of God's love. He intercedes for me and presents me blameless before the Father and the Father accepts me as His own.

The blood of Jesus has washed me clean.
The blood of Jesus has clothed me in righteousness.
The blood of Jesus continuously delivers, preserves and rescues me from a fallen world.

And His blood does the same for you.

"Oh! precious is the flow that makes me white as snow,
No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus."

Lord Jesus, How I love you, Lord. Thank You for giving Your life for me. Thank You for rescuing me from a fallen world and for delivering me from the enemy's hand. You are precious to me, Lord. Keep me from stumbling as You have promised. Thank You for presenting me blameless to my Heavenly Father. And Lord, thank You for interceding for me, preserving me from the snare of sin. Glory to Your Name, Lord!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Intentional Planting Begets Trust

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit."
(Jeremiah 17:7,8)

Blessed. Happy. Content.

This is God's promise to those who trust Him, to those who place their hope in Him.

I love this promise - we all do. But isn't it easier said than done? I think our spirits readily embrace this truth. We love the Lord, so what's not to trust? Right?

But our flesh. Now that's another story. Our flesh wants to wallow in self-pity, to flaunt our worries and concerns. Our flesh wants to figure everything out - hold onto the control - while our lips proclaim trust and hope in the One True God.

I know. I know the misery. If only we could learn to TRUST Him with every ounce of our being! No doubts, no worries, no fears - just contentment...blessed contentment. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

You know, this level of trust is attainable. If it weren't, then God wouldn't have said so, right?

This passage of scripture says that the person who trusts and hopes in the Lord is like the tree PLANTED by the waters. That tells me the tree was placed there purposefully, intentionally.

We must understand that our faith must grow deep, intentional roots lapping the streams of Living Water. This occurs supernaturally when, during times of drought or seasons of winter, we RUN to our God and cry out to Him, keeping our hearts soft and pliable in the hands of the potter. The roots of our faith grow deep when we seek Him in our darkness, when we listen for His still, quiet whisper in the midst of the tumultuous waves of despair that life throws our way.

Trust. Chasah (chah-sah): to trust, to hope, to make someone a refuge.

The next time a torrent of fear and doubt billows relentlessly in your direction, run to Him. Run as fast as your little legs will carry you. Run to the safety of His everlasting, outstretched arms.

Can you picture the cross? That's where we learned we could trust Him.

Lord, Thank You for Your remarkable love, Your lavish love. Forgive us for taking it for granted. Help us get the mindset that trust is more than a sweet concept for the Christian to refer to. Teach us that trust involves action. It requires setting our jaw in determination and planting ourselves next to the stream of Living Water. It requires knowing the One in whom we have believed. We want to know You more, Lord - all about You. We want to please You, Lord, to walk in Your truth each and every day. I am so thankful that You desire that, as well. We only need to take You at Your Word. Thank You, Lord.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

BEHOLD! The Lord is My Salvation!

"Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.'"
(Isaiah 12:2)

"For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song..."

I discovered something new about this scripture. In the past, I read Yah like the word, 'yes' - "For yes, the Lord is my strength and song..."

But, I was wrong. The word, Yah, is actually a shorter form of the Lord's name, Yahweh, or Jehovah. Who knew?!

Many references to Yah involve a compound word Hallelu-Yah (sound familiar?) which, translated means, "Praise the Lord." A literal translation means, "You must all praise Yah!"

So interesting...Now, let's put this in context.

The book of Isaiah is filled with prophetic passages of the coming of the Messiah. Chapter 12 is a continuation of one such prophesy. When I consider the coming of the Lord and I consider what I just learned about Hallelu-Yah, I am reminded that on that Day, "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!" It is mandated that we must all praise Yah - Hallelu-Yah!!

I love that Isaiah says, "BEHOLD, God is my salvation..." He is making a declaration. He is calling attention to what he knows to be true. Isaiah is speaking these words to the children of Israel, but perhaps he is declaring his faith to himself, as well.

Maybe that is something we should consider from time to time.

Is your back against a wall? Do you feel afraid or overwhelmed? Is your confidence level running lower than the ground on which you stand?

Then maybe it is time to declare your faith!

For BEHOLD, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid! He is my strength - my power and security. He has filled my heart with praise. Nothing is too difficult for my God. He holds me in the palm of His mighty hand and delivers me from all my fears.

There. Do you feel better?

I know I do.


Father, I will trust and not be afraid because You, Lord, ARE my salvation, my strength and the lifter up of my head. I boldly declare my faith and speak courage into my spirit, in Jesus' Name. You are faithful, Lord. Thank You for holding me in the palm of Your hand, safe and secure from all life's harms. I love you, Lord.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

He Will Rejoice Over You!

"The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."
(Zephaniah 3:17)

This has been one of my favorite scriptures for a very long time. In fact, I first learned it as a song in a bible study I attended in college. My goodness, such a joyful, victorious melody. We clapped our hands and lifted our voices to the Lord Who is mighty in our midst.

These powerful words are being spoken by Zephaniah to the remnant of Israel; to those chosen people who turned from their rebellion, humbled themselves and chose to seek after righteousness before their God.

And God's response?

He promised He would gather them to Himself and heal their wicked ways (3:18). He promised He would DWELL in their midst.

Imagine this.

The Lord God dwelling in your midst - The Mighty One Who saves, Who restores, Who delivers His children - right there with you every step of the way!

What happens next? God REJOICES over His children who have returned to His love!

There are two different Hebrew words used in this passage for 'rejoice'. The first is sus (soos): "He will rejoice (sus) over you with gladness." Our return to Him makes Him "greatly happy with pervasive, irresistible joy!"

The second 'rejoice' is gil (geel): "He will rejoice (gil) over you with singing." The Lord "dances for joy" when we recognize Who He is in our lives.

I love that!!

How often do we only consider our emotions in our relationship with the Lord. For sure, we were ecstatic at the moment of our salvation, we were humbled and filled with a peaceful contentment when we found our way back to the cross after a time of wandering.

But do we ever think about how God feels during these times?

According to the scripture, our Heavenly Father is "leaping for joy!" He is singing and beside Himself with great happiness.

What a lovely thought.

How great is His love.

Lord, I love You! And I love that You are a very hands-on God, not some stuffy old taskmaster looking for our every mistake. You love us so much that You dance for joy when we call to You and run into Your everlasting arms of love. You, Lord, are mighty! You are awesome! Thank You for creating joy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Blessings of Obedience

"The Lord will open to you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but have no need to borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them."
(Deuteronomy 28:12,13)

Oh, the blessings of obedience!

Obedience places you in the perfect will of God. In His perfect will is provision, protection, joy, peace...and the list goes on.

Does having an obedient heart cause you to walk in perfection? No! No one walks in perfection, we all fall short of the glory of God. But, remember, God looks upon the heart and, when He sees a heart that is focused on Him, desiring to please Him in all things, then he will make the crooked places straight. His voice will be heard loud and clear. You will feel his fingertips intertwined with yours.

"The Lord will open to you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand."

Choose this day to walk in obedience - not perfection - obedience. He will direct your paths and pour out blessings too great to contain.

And won't it be awesome to sense His hand clasped in yours?

Lord God, I choose You this day. Open my ears to hear Your voice that I might walk in Your ways. I love You so much, Lord. There is no place I would rather be than in the center of Your will. My life is not my own - it belongs to You. Make me and mold me into a vessel of honor for You. Bless You, Father.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Glorious Light of the New Jerusalem

"But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the very glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light."
(Revelation 21:22,23)

The new Jerusalem. Can we even begin to imagine this phenomenal place? Let's try.

Verse 22 tells us that there is no temple there for us to gather in worship. A building is not necessary because the Lord God Himself and His Son, Jesus are its temple. I take this to mean that we will be dwelling WITHIN their Spirit, fully engulfed, completely embraced.

Remember the verse in Acts 17:28? "For IN HIM we live and move and have our being..." IN HIM! On this earth, we know that at the moment of salvation, we are sealed WITHIN the Holy Spirit. Our spirit is safe, secure - but our bodies are still at the mercy of this fallen world.

But in the New Jerusalem, WE will be spirit and we will be perfectly united with our Lord. What a glorious thought!

And the Light...think for a minute about the Light. The city will be illuminated by the very glory of God. The Lamb - the Light of the world - will be its Light. Have you ever heard the testimony of someone who survived a "life-after-death" experience? The first thing these folks describe is the Light, yet with some frustration, for there are no words to adequately describe its brilliance.

Now, you're going to love this:

Isaiah 60:19,20 reads, "The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; but the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended."

This passage in Isaiah was written almost 800 years before Revelation, and yet it presents the reader with the same vision of glorious light. God's Word never changes. Each day moves us closer to the fulfillment of His great plan - towards the New Jerusalem...towards that city on the hill engulfed in brilliant, divine Light.

Warm, welcoming Light.
Embracing, penetrating Light.

The Light of Love.

Lord God, Can we begin to imagine what You have prepared for us? I think not! It is too grand for us to grasp hold of. I look forward to a place engulfed in the Light of Your Love where there is no more sorrow, no more pain. Walking and talking with You - dwelling with You - is far more wonderful than we could ever understand! Hold us close, Father, as we approach that glorious day. Let us not lose sight of your beautiful face.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Desperately Seeking After God

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you says the Lord and I will bring you back from your captivity..."
(Jeremiah 29:11-14)

Captivity, for us as Christians, does not refer to literal prison bars. Captivity, for us, refers to anything that is holding us back from being all we can be for Christ.

Are you suffering from debilitating depression? Did your finances wash away with a flood of debt and job loss? Maybe you're like me, battling a tether to the refrigerator door! Anything that separates you from God's best, that overwhelms you or controls your life, is your captor.

But what did the Lord say about this?

He said, "I will be found by you and I will bring you back from your captivity."

When? How? When we search for the Lord with our whole heart we will find Him and be set free!

The Hebrew word for search is darash (dau-rahsh) suggesting a close pursuit with such earnestness that the search is infused with desperation. This indicates something more than warming a pew on Sunday or having an occasional quiet time. These activities are good, but they do not say, "Desperation"!

We all need to think about this.

Are you desperate for God? I'm learning to be. It began by recognizing that I needed to return to my first love - Jesus. I needed to depend on Him totally, to feast on His Word and sit at His feet in conversation...daily. I needed to let Him tear down the walls surrounding my heart so that I could thoroughly accept His love.

Desperate for God...

Something to think about.

Lord, Set me free from anything that keeps me from Your best. I want all of You. I want to be enthralled by Your love, amazed by Your power and thrilled with Your Word. I am learning to trust You completely, to depend upon You totally, and for that, I am very thankful. These lessons have been painful, but life-changing. Thank You, Lord, for letting me find You and for answering me when I called. I love You, Lord.