Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rejoicing, Persevering and Prayer

"...rejoicing in hope, patient (persevering) in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;"
(Romans 12:12)

This verse was spoken by Paul to the Christians in Rome. He was giving them guidelines on Christian behavior, such as loving without hypocrisy, being diligent, serving the Lord and blessing our enemies.

"Rejoicing in hope, remaining patient in tribulation and continuing steadfastly in prayer" is sandwiched somewhere in the middle.

I began to think about these words and their meaning. One thing my Jewish brothers and sisters have taught me is the emphasis God places on eternity. Our physical world is but a snap of the Lord's fingers - a fleeting moment. Certainly, the Lord is concerned about our physical needs, but He is not wrapped up in them like we are. Why? Because He is Spirit and He is eternal. His greatest joy and desire is to know that we will spend eternity with Him. After all, that is why He created us.

When you first read, "rejoicing in hope, patient (persevering) in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer," did you place these concepts into tangible situations? I sure did. And there's nothing wrong with that.

But I want to show you what I learned by digging deeper. I learned that the Lord our God wants us to consider eternity as we ponder Paul's exhortations.

The cross-reference for, "rejoicing in hope" is Luke 10:20 which reads, "...rejoice because your names are written in heaven." That's the hope! This reminds me of "the hope of glory" we refer to when a loved one dies. Friend, we have hope for eternity - our names are written in the Lamb's book of life! Rejoice!

What about "patient (persevering) in tribulation"?
This one might blow your socks off or cause you to do the happy dance!

The cross-reference for "patient (persevering) in tribulation" is Luke 21:19, "By your patience possess your souls."

Our souls? What does persevering in tribulation have to do with our souls?

The Greek word used in this passage to indicate patience is hupomeno (hoop-ahm-en-oh) which translates, endure. Hupomeno means "to hold one's ground in conflict, bear up against adversity, stand firm, persevere under pressure, wait calmly and courageously."

Friend, we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but with principalities of darkness. Satan roams the earth as a roaring lion seeking whom he shall devour.

"But he who endures - is patient, persevering in tribulation - to the end shall be saved." (Matthew 24:13)

So rejoice. Persevere. Pray.

And set your eyes on spending eternity with the One Who loves you more than life itself.

Father, Help us understand this message. Help us understand that, although we are consumed with our day to day trials, schedules and needs, You, Lord are consumed with where we will spend eternity. That is pretty amazing. Help us change our focus. Help us to be transformed into the image of Christ through the renewing of our minds. Make us aware of eternal purposes. Set our eyes on You and Your Kingdom. Change our thinking, Father to imitate Yours. Thank You.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Lord's Goodness to the Faithful

"I will praise You with my whole heart;
Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
I will worship toward Your Holy temple,
And praise Your Name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.

"All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord.
When they hear the words of your mouth.
Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord.
For great is the glory of the Lord.
Though the Lord is on high,
Yet He regards the lowly;

but the proud He knows from afar.

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.
The Lord will perfect (fulfill) that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands."
(Psalm 138)

What better way to start a Monday morning than in God's wonderful Word. Let these words flow through your spirit and fill your heart with song. The Lord is faithful and true. He holds you in the palm of His Hand; He surrounds You with grace and mercy. The Lord has given His angels charge over you, therefore, the battle is not yours, saith the Lord. The battle belongs to Him.

So smile. Sing a song and choose to be happy.

Praise You, Father! I WILL praise You with my whole heart! Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You. Let my actions honor You, Lord. Let them reflect Your goodness and grace. You, alone, are worthy of my praise. I bless Your Holy Name!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Thankful Heart

"...giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
(Ephesians 5:20)

The concept of giving thanks is not new to Christians, but how often do we take the Lord literally. Ephesians 5:20 instructs us to "give thanks ALWAYS for ALL things."

Yikes!! Can we do this? I don't think it comes easy. It certainly doesn't come quickly. I believe the longer we walk with the Lord, the more we know Him. The more we know Him, the more we realize we can trust Him. And the more we trust Him, the more we acknowledge AND appreciate His Sovereignty - His authority.

I have a wonderful example for you.

If you've read Morning Glory for any length of time, you know that I adore Corrie ten Boom. She is one of my heroes of the faith. Corrie is of "The Hiding Place" fame. Her family hid Jews during the Holocaust, were found out and subsequently sent to the death camps. Corrie lost all of her family members except for her nephew.

And still she gave thanks.

In fact, after she was liberated, Corrie spent the remainder of her life telling the world about the faithfulness of her Lord. The following is a fabulous example of having a thankful heart and the precious insight that is gained.

"Conditions in our barracks in the concentration camp at Ravensbruck were terrible. When we first arrived I told Betsie (Corrie's sister) I could not bear the lice that lived in our filthy blankets and mattresses. She replied, 'You must thank God for everything, even for lice.' Betsie was right. Because of the bugs which infested our barrack, the women guards and officers kept their distance, and we were able to hold our Bible studies without fear." (Each New Day, Corrie ten Boom)

Now THAT is food for thought! The lice, which anyone would consider horrible, were a blessing because they kept the guards away! As we come to realize who we are in Christ, I believe we begin to understand the Father's heart. We are His children. His heart is turned towards us. He is also Almighty God, Sovereign Lord. Nothing comes our way without His knowledge.

I said, NOTHING comes our way without His knowledge.

God promises that He will work everything together for our good when we love Him and are called according to His purpose. Do you believe it? Try expressing your faith with a thankful heart. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see His wisdom in all things concerning you.

You just might be amazed, not to mention transformed.

Thank You, Lord! It is true that You know all things that concern us. Help us to take this to heart. Help us to walk in that knowledge because if we really do believe this and we really do believe that You love us, then we can be sure that there is a great reason for the hardship. You are preparing us for eternity. You are teaching us to trust and not be afraid. You are teaching us to rely solely upon You. Why are we so stubborn, or as You would say, stiff-necked? Forgive us Lord when we try to take matters into our own hands instead of leaning into Your understanding. We give You our hearts and ask that where there is discontent, You would replace it with thankfulness. You are precious, Lord. Thank You!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Love Too Magnificent to Measure

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him."
(1 John 3:1)

Yes! What manner of love the Father has bestowed on us!

Love beyond our comprehension.
Love too magnificent to measure.
Love undeserved.

What is the reason He bestowed His gift of love upon us? "That we should be called children of God!" What does this mean?

Called, kaleo (kal-eh-oh) means "to invite or summon." Kaleo is God's "call to participate in the blessings of the Kingdom." (Spirit Filled Life Study Bible commentary)

As children of God we have a rich inheritance which are the blessings to the Kingdom: peace that passes all understanding, joy unspeakable, cleansing of sin resulting in new birth, new life, new beginnings...

In Romans 9:25 & 26, Paul quotes Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 1:10 from the Old Testament when explaining that Jesus came for the Gentiles, as well as the Jews: "'I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved.' And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' there they shall be called sons of the Living God.'"

Don't you love it? The Old Testament supporting the New...a shared covenant between the Jews and Christians. God's Word is wonderful.

"What manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!"


Lord, Thank You for calling us Your children. What an enormous blessing this is - an undeserved blessing of love. Help us to walk in Your love. Help us to take Your light into the dark places around us. Help us to realize that You loved us even before we acknowledged Your Presence on this earth. That is amazing. Forgive me for when I take this knowledge for granted. I love You. May I be a blessing to You, my Father.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Lord God of Hosts is His Name

"For behold, He who forms mountains, and creates the wind, who declares to man what His thought is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth - the Lord God of Hosts is His Name."
(Amos 4:13)

What an awesome God we serve!
When I consider the mountains and how they were formed, the wind and from whence it came, I cannot help but sense the majesty of our Lord.

Oh, praise Him this day. Lay your struggles at His feet, place your needs into His capable hands. Lift your head and meet His wonderful gaze.

Child, He has waited for you to realize His power to save. He has waited for you to tap into His strength and gather your daily "bread" from His Son - the Bread of Life.

He waits with arms outstretched for you.

Partake of His goodness.
Drink from His fountain.
Come and sup with Him, for His mercies are new every morning; His faithfulness endures to all generations.

The Lord God of Hosts - Jehovah Sabaoth - is His Name.

Praise You, Father! You are truly magnificent. Help us to comprehend Your greatness and to walk in the fullness of Your love. Help us to run to You with all that concerns us, knowing full well that You are more than capable of meeting our needs. Thank You, Lord. Bless Your Holy Name!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift."
(2 Corinthians 9:15)

Give Thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.

And now, let the weak say I am strong.
Let the poor say I am rich,
Because of what the Lord has done for us.

Give thanks.

The Lord is faithful and true. His love is beyond measure, His mercy is everlasting. Because of the Blood of Jesus, our weaknesses have been exchanged for His strength, our struggles exchanged for His peace, our sorrow replaced with His joy. Indeed, our spirit is rich with the wealth of heaven and the knowledge that we are loved.

Give thanks.

Father, We thank You for being our God. You are amazing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Am My Beloved's

"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
(John 4:23.24)

Have you ever considered the idea of worship? Or, put a better way, have you ever considered GOD'S idea of worship?

In John 4:23, Jesus says that the Father is SEEKING those who will worship Him in spirit and truth.

Imagine that. God is SEEKING true worshipers. He desires our worship. He is looking for those who will worship Him with their whole heart. Apparently, this is very important to the Father and vital to our relationship with Him.

I looked up the Greek word used for worship in this passage. It is proskuneo (pros-koo-neh-oh). Now, get this...Proskuneo is derived from pros, "toward," and kuneo, "to kiss."

I love it! Worship means moving or having focus toward someone or something and to kiss, meaning intimacy, connection, love! Oh my goodness. It sounds like there is more to it than tradition, doesn't it?

This helps me understand what worship means to my Father. Worship is the bridge that connects us to Him emotionally. Yes, I used the word emotionally.

Through worship God embraces us with HIS love.
Through worship we embrace God with OUR love.
That's something to get emotional about, amen?

Beautiful...I am my beloved's and He is mine.

Praise You, Lord. Awaken our hearts to love You more and to worship You in spirit and in truth. Stir up our love that lies dormant at times. Remind us that You personify the greatest love story ever told and we are the chosen one for that love. That is incredible! Thank You, Lord. Forgive us for allowing pride to keep us from revealing our love for You. Bless You, Father!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In Fathomless Billows of Love

"'At the same time,' says the Lord, 'I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people. Thus says the Lord: 'The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness - Israel, when I went to give them rest.' The Lord has appeared from afar to me, saying: 'Yes I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again, I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt.'"
(Jeremiah 31:1-4a)

First and foremost, remember that we, as Believers, have been grafted into the families of Israel, therefore the covenant God made with Israel also belongs to us.

"I will be your God and you will be My people."

As the Lord speaks to Israel in this passage, what is He saying to us?
He is addressing their time in the wilderness.
He is addressing OUR time in the wilderness.

Have you been going through a difficult time - a wilderness? Many Christians today are feeling oppressed, depressed, overwhelmed. There's a whole lot of shaking going on.

Verse two reads, "The people who survived the sword (the battles) found grace in the wilderness - Israel, when I (the Lord) went to give them rest."

Are you a survivor? God has given you grace in your wilderness. How did He do that? As He came to Israel in their wilderness, so He came to you in yours and brought you rest.

Rest = nu'ach (noo-ahch) means "to settle down, be soothed or quieted, to be secure, to be still, to dwell peacefully."

Oh, beloved, let those words soak in. With His Presence, God has settled you, soothed and quieted your unrest. He has brought you security where there was fear. He has stilled your anguished heart and He has provided a way to dwell peacefully.

The Lord heard the cries of your heart and came to you to give you rest.

Peace, Peace. Wonderful peace.
Flowing down from the Father above.
Wash over my spirit forever I pray
In fathomless billows of love.

Father, Thank You for Your Presence. I so appreciate the fact that You desire to be with Your children. I appreciate the fact that when we cry out to You, You are faithful to hear our cry and come running to Your child. May we never take that for granted, Lord. What an awesome privilege it is to be Your child. Be glorified in us today, Lord. And thank You for giving us rest.

Monday, November 22, 2010

With Total Abandon

"Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His Presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations."
(Psalm 100)

This was probably the first psalm I learned after Psalm 23. I was in college at the time, attending an Intervarsity bible study on Tuesday nights. We sang Psalm 100 often.

Correction. We didn't just sing it - we SANG it!!

We sang these words with all the gusto we could muster, clapping, smiling, hearts bursting with joy.

After we sang the entire Psalm, a new stanza began with the girls singing, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, thank you, Jesus (Praise God - the boys sang this part). Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, thank You, Jesus (Praise God)...

This is where I learned to worship God. We came before Him as a child - no analysis, no spirit-quenching pride, just child-like faith.

We sang with total abandon.
We worshiped God with our whole heart.
We entered into the Presence of God.

Wow...such fond memories.

Now, 35 years later, the words to Psalm 100 mean even more to me. I've walked with my Savior long enough for these words to punctuate my reality with Truth:

Know that the Lord, He IS God.
The Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting.
His Truth endures to all generations.

Therefore, I will praise Him. I will come into His Presence with singing and thanksgiving in my heart.

And I will bless His Holy Name all the days of my life.

With total abandon.

Lord, You are so precious to me. I love to praise You and give You thanks. I even love to dance before You as David did. You are an amazing God. The more I know You, the more I want to know You. Thank You for Your goodness. Thank You for Your mercy and Your faithfulness. And, most of all, thank You for Your love. Bless You, Father.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

When You Pray

"And when you pray, don't be like those people who don't know God. They continue saying things that mean nothing, thinking that God will hear them because of their many words. Don't be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him. So when you pray, you should pray like this:

'Our Father in heaven,
May Your Name always be kept holy.
May Your kingdom come
And what you want be done,
Here on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us the food we need for each day.
Forgive us for our sins,
Just as we have forgiven those who sinned against us.
And do not cause us to be tempted,
But save us from the Evil One.'"
(Matthew 6:7-13, The Inspirational Study Bible)

I chose the Inspirational Study Bible's translation of the Lord's Prayer for this post because I want us to hear it as though Jesus is speaking directly to us. The Lord's Prayer is a portion of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus sat on a hillside among the multitudes and taught them about the things of God.

Can you imagine that scene? I wonder if that is where we get the saying, "Sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him." Hmmm...could be.

I can close my eyes and put myself right there in their midst. As I'm sitting, I look deep into my Savior's eyes and hear His rich, tender voice. My heart swells as I begin to understand the Father's love.

Please, come sit with me. Sit still for just a moment and listen. Now, read the precious words of our Lord's prayer once again. Do you hear Him? Can you sense His Presence?

Now, follow His lead:

Give Him praise.
Give Him priority.
Ask Him for provision.
Ask Him for forgiveness.
Ask Him for protection from Satan.

Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed - holy - is Your Name.

Amen and amen.

Lord, Open our ears that we might hear Your words of instruction and Your words longing to connect us to our Father. Help us to step into the moment when You sat among the people and taught them of Your Father's love. Make Your Word come alive in our hearts once again where we desire to soak them up and be transformed. Thank You, Lord for Your Word which is alive and living today. We love you, Lord.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

You Just Might Be Amazed

"Then Moses said to the Lord, 'See, You say to me, "Bring up this people." But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, "I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight." Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.' And He said, 'My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.'"
(Exodus 33:12-14)

Gotta love Moses! Talk about attitude! I mean, Moses starts out with, "See Lord, You tell ME to bring up these people. Consider, Lord, that this nation is YOUR people!" Who does that? Is it wrong? I don't think so.

I believe Moses honored God with such a comfortable relationship. Oh, that we were envious of Moses having such a personal relationship with God! And remember, Moses did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit like we do. Even so, Moses KNEW the Lord His God. He approached the Lord boldly.

But wait a minute.

We DO have a personal relationship with God through the Blood of His son, Jesus. In fact, His Spirit dwells within us. AND, because of Jesus, we can approach the throne of God boldly!

But do we? I say, "Not often enough."

We crawl into our shells of self-righteousness, wanting people around us to see how holy we are. We put on a facade of organized religion and place God in His gilded box, embellished with pearls and sapphire and jasper.

Honestly, I wasn't expecting this. I apologize for sounding so harsh, but I believe the Lord God is saying,

"Church, wake up! You've become so organized that you've left Me out of the picture. My Spirit cannot dwell where sin abounds. My Spirit is not welcome where I am not seen as Sovereign. My Spirit cannot thrive when contained within your gilded boxes.

Set Me free from your agendas and preconceived ideas. I AM the Lord and I faileth not. Do not be deceived in your self-righteousness. I AM the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. I want to walk with you in the shade of fellowship. I want to whisper echoes of love into the yearning hearts of My children. Allow Me in. Allow Me to reveal Myself to you. Be honest with Me. Be bold with Me. I am not offended by honesty. I am offended by self-righteousness."

Whoa! I hadn't planned on that, but I believe it would be a mistake not to share the Word God placed in My heart. The scripture supports the fact that God speaks to His children, if we will only listen. Anything you believe He is speaking to you will be confirmed in His Word. He will not say anything contrary to His Word.

Prayerfully take this Word to heart.
Our Father loves us. He wants us to tear down the barriers that prevent us from knowing Him. Sit at His feet. Talk to Him as you would your best friend. And then, listen. Listen to His precious Word.

You just might be amazed.

Father, Thank You for this strong Word of admonition. Let these words take root in our hearts and produce fruit for Your Kingdom. We humbly bow before You and ask Your forgiveness where we have sinned against You, where we have hidden behind the veil of self-righteousness. Father, cleanse us of all unrighteousness and set us free from the deceptions of the evil one. Thank You, Father. We love You and we praise Your Holy Name.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Faith Persevering in Trial

"I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, AND established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth - Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord."
(Psalm 40:1-3)

I appreciate the subtitle to this passage: Faith Persevering in Trial.

Trials are universal - everybody has them.
Faith is a choice.
Persevering faith is a bigger choice.

The first thought that comes to mind is that David persevered in his faith because he didn't push the Lord away. He acknowledged the Lord in the midst of his trial. He prayed. And then David waited on a Sovereign God.

And the Lord in Whom David trusted came through with deliverance.

Do you know what else I see? Verse two ways, "He also brought me up out of a horrible pit (been there, done that), out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, AND established my steps."

After deliverance God did not leave David just standing there high and dry on a rock. No! The Lord then established his steps. He gave David direction, purpose.

And I believe God gave him favor. To me, that's what happens when God establishes our steps. He gives us favor, divine appointments, grace to meet the challenges ahead...He puts all the pieces of the puzzle together.

And then He puts a new song in our mouth, just as He did for David.

I'll bet David danced before His Lord while he sang a happy tune!

Praise You, Father. Praise You for Your deliverance, for Your faithfulness to Your children. Praise You for lifting us up out of the miry clay, setting our feet upon a rock and THEN establishing our steps. Thank You, Lord. Thank You for helping us plod along, even when the going gets touch. Thank You for hearing us when we call and setting us free from the snare of the enemy that has trapped us in the pit. You are mighty to save, Lord and worthy to be praised. I love You, Lord.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Sweet Aroma To The Lord

"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma."
(Ephesians 5:1,2)

Therefore. What is it there for?

Paul is writing to the Church at Ephesus, admonishing them to mature in their faith. In the chapters leading up to this verse, he reminds them of the basic principles of faith such as redemption, forgiveness of sins and grace.

And then Paul begins to emphasize the need to mature - to develop their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He makes them aware of the Believer's responsibility to pursue unity and purity; to realize the gifts within them and then put those gifts to use in the Body of Christ. And then Paul speaks a little harsher in Chapter four exhorting the Ephesians to refuse worldly mindedness, to put off the old man and replace him with the new and to not grieve the Holy Spirit with ungodly behavior.

He was trying to get them to understand that as disciples of Jesus, they had a job to do - to build the Kingdom of God. He wanted them to realize that this required maturing in their faith.

So, what is chapter 5:1&2 there for? Remember? "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma."

Paul is telling them that this is HOW the life of godliness and righteousness can be accomplished by the Believer: Be imitators of God...as dear children following in the footsteps of their Father.

Oh my goodness! How do we do that? First, we must know who our Father is. God is faithful, full of mercy and grace. He is a just God. He is jealous for the things of righteousness. And above all things, God is love.

Are WE? Are we faithful, merciful, gracious? Do we behave fairly - with justice? Do the things of God hold our heart more than anything else in our lives - so much so that we jealously guard them and their righteousness? When someone watches us - and you know they do - do they see our Father's resemblance?

I know...Ouch, Lord!

And the most important word of instruction? Walk in love. Love as Jesus loved, laying our lives down for our brothers and sisters; laying our lives down for our Father.

And the result? Our lives become a sweet aroma to the Lord, holy and acceptable to Him.

Father, Help us to grow up, to not lie stagnate in our faith. Teach us to eat the meat of the Word, to learn the essence of Who You are. And help us to walk in love. That is so difficult sometimes, but You tell us we must do this. Thank goodness You didn't say we have to LIKE everyone, just love them with Your love. And I pray that You will write a banner upon our hearts that reminds us to be an imitator of You. We do not belong to ourselves - we were bought with a price. May our lives be a sweet aroma of sacrifice and love to You.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Strong Confidence

"In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge."
(Proverbs 14:26)

This verse is powerful in its simplicity. If we take a moment to really focus on its content, these words can become a milestone in our walk of faith.

What is the fear of the Lord?
To fear the Lord means to reverence Him, to acknowledge His authority, His holiness. The fear of the Lord is the acknowledgment that He is the One True God and there is no other like Him.

It has nothing to do with being afraid.
It has everything to do with understanding Who He is in light of who we are.

And that understanding produces a strong confidence.

Confidence in Him as our Savior.
Confidence in Him as our Provider.
Confidence in Him as our Deliverer and Protector.

Confidence. Unshakable faith.

"...and His children will have a place of refuge."

The Hebrew word used in this verse for refuge is machseh (mahch-seh) meaning "shelter, protection, fortress, a hope." Machseh is a place of trust; a shelter from the storm.

Oh my goodness! Did you get that? We have a PLACE of refuge - a PLACE of trust and hope. Our Father has provided that for us. Why? Because we are His children and He loves us. It is not a place we earn or even deserve. It is provided because we belong to Him.

Reverence the Lord.
Worship Him in His holiness.
Run to your place of refuge when you need shelter from the storm..

And walk in confidence that He is your God.

Father, You are awesome! You are so approachable and want so much for your children to KNOW You. Teach us, Lord. Open our eyes that we might see and our ears that we might hear the glories of Your Name. Open our hearts to receive Your love - to not question it, but to walk confidently in it. Thank You, Father. We love you

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Proven Word

"For You are my lamp, O Lord; The Lord shall enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; The Word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him."
2 Samuel 22:29-31)

The Light of Christ - the Word of God...I love to consider the Light of His Presence in my darkness. His Presence brings me peace.

"For You are my lamp, O Lord; The Lord shall enlighten my darkness."

When we consider the glory of the Lord, radiance comes to mind. The thought of His holiness creates images of brilliance and majesty.

Penetrating Light.
Consuming fire.
And then I consider His lamp.

God's lamp is His Word, Jesus Christ.
The Light of His Word is illuminated by the oil of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in us. Three in One. One in Three. The intricacies of God are thrilling!

And His Word is proven.

Do you find yourself in a dark place? Are you overcome by an uncertain future? Have anxiety and depression become your constant companions?

Take hope.

His Word is proven.
His Word is a Light guiding you step by step. His Word is the lamp which illuminates the Presence of God in your darkness.

And His Word lives within you, Beloved.

I take such comfort in Your Presence, Lord. My darkness shrinks as Your Light shines within. You penetrate my fears. You erase my doubts and You hold me until I know that everything is going to be okay. I love You, Lord. And I love Your Word that teaches me Who You are.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My God Sent His Angel

"So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, 'Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you...' Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Daniel, servant of the Living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?' Then Daniel said to the king, 'O king, live forever! My God sent His Angel and shut the lions' mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.'"
(Daniel 6: 16,19-22)

Many of us cut our teeth on this bible story - Daniel and the Lions' Den.

What a marvelous story of deliverance!
What a tremendous example of God's power!

As I studied this passage, a cross-reference caused me to consider how this beloved bible story translates to our lives today. The cross-reference is 2 Timothy 4:17, "But the Lord stood with me (Paul) and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion."

Interesting, isn't it? Who knew?!

Biblical scholars believe that Paul, most likely, is not referring to an actual lion, but is actually referring to Satan. 1 Peter 5:8 reads, "Be self-controlled, be vigilant (watchful); because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."

We are foolish if we do not consider the works of the enemy. We are clearly admonished by God's Word to be aware of his schemes.

But, how wonderful that God is faithful to deliver us.

Did you notice another component that was shared between Daniel's story and Paul's? The Angel of the Lord was with both of them. Daniel said, "My God sent His Angel and shut the lions' mouths..." Paul said, "But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me..."

"My God sent His Angel..."
"The Lord stood with me and strengthened me..."
Praise His Name!

Child, the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. He is faithful to save, to deliver us from the mouth of the lion.

But, you must call upon His Name.

Lord, I love how Your Presence is always with us to strengthen us, to deliver us, to oppose the work of the enemy. Thank You. I know that nothing is too difficult for You. I fully believe that, with You, all things are possible. And for that, Lord, I am grateful. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Come. Listen To Me

"'Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness, You who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; For I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him.'

"For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

'Listen to Me, My people; and give ear to Me, O My nation: For law will proceed from Me, and I will make My justice rest as a light of the peoples. My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, and My arms will judge the peoples; The coastlands will wait upon Me, and on My arm they will trust. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, the earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not be abolished.

'Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law:
Do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; But My righteousness will be forever, and My salvation from generation to generation.'

'I, even I, AM He who comforts you.
Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass? And you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth; You have feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he has prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor? The captive exile hastens, that he may be loosed, that he should not die in the pit, and that his bread should not fail. But I AM the Lord your God, who divided the sea whose waves roared - the Lord of hosts is His name. And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, that I may establish the heavens, lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion, "You are My people."'"
(Isaiah 51:1-8,12-16)

As I read this passage in Isaiah, I felt the Lord was speaking to many of us directly. "Listen to Me," the Father says, "Listen to Me."

We are in uncertain days, difficult days.
But, you know what? The Lord changes not! He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

I encourage you to, once again, read through these precious words of exhortation from our Father and imagine Him speaking to you directly.

Beloved, He says, "Come. Listen to Me."

Father, I take great comfort in these words. When all around us is shifting, You, O Lord, remain constant and sure. You are the Mighty God, the rescuer of Your people, the Rock of our salvation. You, O Lord, are worthy of our praise. Thank You for these words that speak directly to Your people. Open our ears that we might hear. Bless You, Father.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Lord Surrounds His People

"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever...Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts."
(Psalm 125:1,2,4)

Can you picture this comforting, powerful image? Just like "the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people."

The Lord SURROUNDS His people!
Thank You, Father.

Do you know what this reminds me of? It's one of my favorite verses spoken by Jesus: John 15:9, "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love." The Living Bible says, "live within My love."

I think this correlation is beautiful!

The Lord SURROUNDS His people like the mountains surround Jerusalem.
Jesus tells us to live WITHIN His love - surrounded protected, kept.

We are treasured by our heavenly Father. We are precious to Him. Yes, dear child, YOU are precious to Him!

Can you take hold of this? Are you hurting? Do you feel alone, abandoned in your quest to do something with your life? Do not listen to the deceptive lies of the enemy - YOU are a child of God, surrounded by the Lord Himself, kept by the power of His love.

Yes, we are surrounded by His love from this time forth and forever.

Father, I am immediately reminded of Your grace. You know what we need even before we know. You knew before the earth was born that we would need Your ever-abiding Presence in our lives. Like a newborn child, we need You - Your sustenance, Your protection, Your love. I feel so safe - so peaceful - when I think of You completely surrounding me with Your Presence and Your incredible love. Thank You, Lord.

Friday, November 12, 2010

While His Heart Clung to Faith

"Then He said, 'Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.' So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; And he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, 'Stay here with the donkey; The lad and I will go yonder and worship and we will come back to you.'"
(Genesis 22:2-5)

"...the lad and I will go yonder and worship..."

I thought it was interesting that Abraham chose the word worship to describe what he was about to do. Only Abraham knew that he was taking Isaac to the mountaintop to offer him as a sacrifice, according to the Word of the Lord.

Can you imagine the turmoil stirring within Abraham?
And yet, he set out to obey the Lord. While his heart clung to faith, he took one step at a time: saddle the donkey, prepare two servants and Isaac for the journey, split the wood for the burnt offering, go to the place God had told him - one step at a time.

All the while loving his boy.
All the while trusting his God.

When they arrived at Mr. Moriah, Abraham told his servants to "Stay here with the donkey; The lad and I will go yonder and worship..."

I looked up the word worship. The Hebrew word for worship used in this verse is shachah (shah-chah) which means "to bow, to stoop as an act of submission or reverence." Shachah is the opposite of worship in the form of exuberant praise. Abraham's form of worship was to submit to the authority of God - to bow before Him in obedience.

Take a moment and let this sink in. Abraham's heart must have been breaking, or at the very least heavy-laden. But he chose to obey his Lord. He chose to trust in the faithfulness of the One Who called him friend.

And God counted it as worship.

Wow, Lord! I think I can see clearly that obedience to You is the ultimate way of honoring You, of expressing worship. When we worship and praise with exuberance and joy, WE feel good, too. But, there is not any expression of WE in Abraham's example. His worship was all about You. It had everything to do with humility and submission and it had nothing to do with "feeling good." Wow. I am humbled as I think about this, Father. How many times have I entered into worship knowing that afterward I would feel better! Oh my goodness! Lord, You ARE worthy of praise. David danced before You in worship. He sang and played instruments and shouted! You desire that and You are honored by our worship and praise. No doubt. But, my goodness, You have shown me a deeper level of worship and I appreciate it. Thank You, Father.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Either We Believe God Or Not!

"And David said to his son Solomon, 'Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God - my God - WILL be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.'"
(1 Chronicles 28:20)

I have to admit that my first thought when I read this scripture was Nike's famous slogan, "Just Do It!"

If only it was that simple.

But then, it boils down to basically one thing: Either we believe God or we don't! Do you agree?

For if I believe God and take Him at His Word, then I should be immersed in the knowledge that the Lord my God IS with me, therefore I do not need to be afraid or dismayed. There would be no room for doubt. Our faith should be in black and white - no shades of gray. And yet, gray too often becomes the color of choice: Our spirit believes while our flesh wants to scream, "You want me to do WHAT, Lord? Are you kidding? I can't do that!"

Can I get a witness?

I take comfort in the knowledge that we are not alone in our contradictions. Even the disciples whom we hold in high esteem, the very ones who walked this earth with Jesus, struggled with their belief - their faith. Luke 17:5 reads, "And the apostles, said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith.'"

Do you know what I have come to realize? I have learned that an obedient heart means more than any sacrifice we can offer the Lord. When He asks us to do something, and we say yes - even as our bodies tremble - He honors that obedience and pours out His grace. His Presence is known. His peace flows well beyond our understanding.

He only want us to take the first step and JUST DO IT!

Lord, Thank You for understanding our complicated emotions. We are like Paul when he said, "the things I want to do, I don't do and the things I don't want to do, I do!" Our faith is like that too! Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief! Help us to walk in faith with consistency. Show us how to develop our faith for Your glory. Teach us to walk in the reality that the Lord our God IS with us and there is no need to be afraid. Thank You, Lord.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Once The Seed Is Planted

"Then He said,'To what shall we liken the Kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.'"
(Mark 4:30-32)

For the first time, I think I have a clear picture of what this parable means. I had always taken it at face value, so I had a basic understanding, but now "I have eyes that see."

Let's begin with the first cross-reference: Micah 4:1,2, "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." This very same prophetic word about the Messianic age was also given to Isaiah (Isaiah 2:2,3)

If you're like me, you're asking, "What does this have to do with a mustard seed?!" I know. I asked the same question.

And this is what the Lord showed me.

The mustard seed parable is illustrating the Kingdom of God from its inception to its manifestation at the Second Coming of Christ. This parable tells of the coming greatness of the Kingdom AFTER THE SEED HAS BEEN SOWN. Now think about it...Who is Jesus talking to? He is describing the Kingdom of God to His disciples, a small band of twelve - a tiny mustard seed - which ultimately turned the world upside down!

The Prophecies in Micah and Isaiah are describing what that "mustard seed" looks like once it has been planted and has grown to maturity - to completion.
"In the latter days, the mountain of the Lord's house...shall be exalted...and peoples shall flow to it." People will be drawn to the Kingdom from many nations. "Many nations will come and say, "let us go to the mountain of the Lord and He will teach us His ways."

Jesus was connecting the dots for His disciples. He was saying, "Look, the Kingdom appears small and insignificant right now. You are few in number, but when I go to be with my Father I will send you the Holy Spirit. He will give you the power to make disciples of all men. The mustard seed - the Kingdom - seems small now, but within lies the power to become the largest of trees - the grandest of Kingdoms - large enough for the birds of the air to seek refuge - great enough to bring salvation to all of mankind.

Once the seed is planted.

Acts 4:4, "However, many of those who heard the Word believed; and the number of the men came to be about 5,000."

Acts 5:14, "And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women."

Acts 19:20, "So the Word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed."

The seed was planted in twelve ordinary men.
And then it began to grow and shoot out strong branches.

The Kingdom of God. Amazing, isn't it?

Father, Thank You for explaining this to us. There is so much to learn. I pray that You will continue to "open our eyes that we might see" the magnificent Truths scattered throughout Your Word. Thank You for stirring up a hunger that makes us want to dig deeper and fully grasp Your mysteries. We love you, Lord.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Deeper Place

"The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!"
(Lamentations 3:24)

The Lord is calling me to a deeper place.

I know that I am not alone in this, for many of you have shared the same with me.

This morning I sat in His Presence. As I prayed, I listened. The following is the whispered message I felt deep in my Spirit as I sat quietly before my Lord. When I realized that His still, small voice was speaking to ME I grabbed the pen and paper in front of me and began to record the encouragement my Father was speaking. I have decided to share this with you because I believe His Words will speak to those who, like me, are desiring more of Jesus - to those who desire a rich relationship with their God. I also believe it will encourage those who are facing an unknown future.

My Child,
Your hope is in Me, the Creator, the God above all gods. No other is like Me. I ride upon the heavens to help you. My eye searches the earth for those I might strengthen. Yes, your hope is in Me. I will never fail you; I will never forsake you - you are mine. My glories I will reveal. My Truth I will impart. You are my precious Child, my treasure. I hold You near to My heart, near to My love. Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you with a response of love and care and surety. I order your steps. I guide you by the Light of My Word. Do not stray to the left nor to the right. No, keep your eyes on Me and I shall direct your paths. You are Mine. I desire your happiness, your joy. Give Me your burdens - they are much too heavy for you to bear. You feel so small and insignificant, but never forget, I AM with You and in Me all the earth has its being. I love you, My precious one. You are Mine and I am yours.

The Lord promises that we will know His voice.
He doesn't mean for it to be a mystery. Sit quietly before Him and allow His gentle Spirit to minister to you. Anything the Lord says will be confirmed in His Word.

Go ahead. Crawl up in your Daddy's lap and listen to His beautiful voice.

Lord, Thank You for encouraging me this morning. Thank You for Your incredible love. You are precious, Father.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I've Got My Tickle-box Turned Over

"He will yet fill your mouth with laughing, and your lips with rejoicing."
(Job 8:21)

"He will YET fill..."

Are you in a dark season of your life?
Are you hanging on by a thread, determined not to give into the jeering accusations of the enemy? Then read this verse again and let it fill you to overflowing...

"He will YET fill your mouth with laughing, and your lips with rejoicing."

He will! Our God promises to bring us through the cold, dark places into His marvelous Light.

The Hebrew word for rejoice, sus (soos), is derived from the verb sason (sa-son). This is the complete opposite of mourning. Sason describes the kind of joy that is pervasive and irresistible.

This reminds me of a familiar saying, "I've got my tickle-box turned over."

Isn't that kind of laughter the most refreshing experience in the world? Joy floods every ounce of our being, sides & cheeks hurt from the robustness of the hilarity, and, for a moment, our spirit leaps with the reckless abandon of a child.

And usually, I don't even know what I'm laughing at, do you?! It comes in waves - waves of refreshing Living Water. And I love it!

I think this is what Job 8:21 is referring to - unspeakable joy.

Even though the night is long, joy comes in the morning - pervasive, irresistible joy.

Lord, Thank You for the gift of laughter. Thank You for Your promise of joy. And thank You for not letting go when we dangle there in our vulnerability before the accusations of the enemy. You are our buckler and our shield. You, Lord, are mighty and faithful. And I believe You enjoy a good laugh too. I love You, Lord.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Longing To Be With The Lord

"How lovely are your dwelling places, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."
(Palm 84:1,2)

Do you ever feel like you fall short in your longing for the Presence of God?

I mean LONGING - yearning - aching.

That's a tough one, isn't it. I believe "longing to be with the Lord" just might touch a nerve. I know it does with me.

Overall, I'm fairly disciplined with studying the Word, with attending church services, with having casual conversation with the Father throughout the day. But longing? Not so much. Only on occasion.

For that I am ashamed.

Our Father's heart is turned toward us, His children. We are the apple of His eye, His special treasure. Don't you know He just loves for us to "sit at His feet" and listen to His gentle whispers of love? Not because we want something, but because we enjoy His company.

Oh my goodness! Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe knows us by name! His Spirit dwells within us and yet, way too often, we forget to love Him just for Who He is. As a friend of mine pointed out recently, "He becomes familiar."

My heart is breaking as my Father sheds His glorious Light on my sin, my selfishness, my complacency. Father, forgive me.

Beloved, like me, confess your sin of familiarity or complacency before the Father. He is waiting to respond to the voice of His child crying out for His Presence.

What a glorious time of rejoicing and rejuvenation awaits.

Father, forgive us for taking You for granted, for becoming so familiar with You that we forget the miracle of Your Presence. Draw us near, Lord. Stir up our spirits within us to hunger and thirst after YOU, not what You can do for us. We love You, Lord and desire to bless You with our devotion. Praise Your Name.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

We Press On

"Not that I have already obtained it, or am already perfected; but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me."
(Philippians 3:12)

Can you imagine this? This is the apostle Paul speaking to the Christians at the Church of Philippi. He is telling them that he, too, still has a lot to learn - that he has not yet arrived. I can relate, can't you?

Paul understands that faith is to be developed; Truth is to be sought after - it doesn't just happen. And, he understands that NOTHING compares to knowing Jesus and Him crucified.

Don't you love the imagery of his phrase, "but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me"?

"I press on."

This is strange, I know, but in my mind I keep picturing a frontiersman scouting out uncharted land. He's caught in a howling blizzard, snow is whipping all about him, blinding him from his trail. Through the fury he can see a light on a distant mountain. He knows the light is a refuge. He knows that life awaits him if he doesn't succumb to the ravages of the storm - if he doesn't give up. This strong pioneer raises his arm and bends it over his brow. He leans into the wind and shields his eyes from the onslaught of snow. He sets his jaw in determination and quickens his step. This brave soul presses on toward the light.

I realize that's a bit dramatic but, we too, are pioneers, sojourners - yes, disciples- trying to find our way.

And we press on.

We press on toward the Light of Jesus.

Father, I am encouraged to know that Paul also had to determine in his will not to give up short of knowing You. Your mysteries beckon to be discovered and understood. I want to know You, Lord. I want to press on - press in - to discover Your hidden treasures. Your Word thrills me and causes me to hunger for more. Thank You, Lord. You are more wonderful than words can say.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Helping One Another Through Prayer

"For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble (tribulation) which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God Who raises the dead, Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in Whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many."
(2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

"...you also helping together in prayer for us..."

Can we even begin to fathom the power of prayer? I mean PRAYER, intercession, calling out to God with the needs of your heart. May we never brush it aside as a mere ritual of casual words tossed into an endless sky.

In this passage of Scripture, Paul is writing to the Church at Corinth. He is telling them of his troubles - his tribulations - while in Asia. Scholars believe that he was suffering from a critical illness, or possible persecution. Whatever he suffered, apparently he believed that, humanly speaking, there was no hope of surviving. Only through God's mercy and the faithful prayers of other Believers was he delivered.

Again, in Romans 15:30 Paul writes to the Christians in Rome, "Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me..."

What a beautiful testimony of prayer! Think of the massive ministry the Apostle Paul had. Indeed, think of the many trials he endured - shipwrecks, beatings, prison, snakebites - and yet he survived them all in his quest to take the Gospel to his world.

What if these young Believers hadn't prayed?
What if we don't fall to our knees and follow through when we tell someone we will pray them through their battles and heartaches?

What if?

"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." ~ James 5:16

Father, It is a privilege to come before You in prayer - in intercession - for others. What a comfort it is to know that You hear us when we call. Thank you, Lord. Open our eyes that we might see and recognize how Satan gets us off track so that we don't pray when we tell someone we will. Prayer makes a difference. You respond to our prayers - not pious, fancy prayers, but prayers from the heart. Make prayer a priority in our lives. Thank You, Lord. We love you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Who Would Have Believed What We Heard?

"Who would have believed what we heard? Who saw the Lord's power in this? He grew up like a small plant before the Lord, like a root growing in a dry land. He had no special beauty or form to make us notice Him; there was nothing in His appearance to make us desire Him. He was hated and rejected by people. He had much pain and suffering. People would not even look at him. He was hated, and we didn't even notice Him.

But He took our suffering on Him and felt our pain for us.
We saw His suffering and thought God was punishing Him. But He was wounded for the wrong we did; He was crushed for the evil we did. The punishment, which made us well, was given to Him, and we are healed because of His wounds. We all have wandered away like sheep; each of us has gone his own way. But the Lord has put on Him the punishment for all the evil we have done.

He was beaten down and punished, but He didn't say a word. He was like a lamb being led to be killed. He was quiet, as a sheep is quiet while its wool is being cut; He never opened His mouth. Men took Him away roughly and unfairly. He died without children to continue His family. He was put to death; He was punished for the sins of my people. He was buried with wicked men, and He died with the rich. He had done nothing wrong, and He had never lied.

But it was the Lord who decided to crush Him and make Him suffer. The Lord made His life a penalty offering, but He will still see His descendants and live a long life. He will complete the things the Lord wants Him to do. After His soul suffers many things, He will see life and be satisfied. My good servant will make many people right with God; He will carry away their sins. For this reason I will make Him a great man among people, and He will share in all things with those who are strong. He willingly gave His life and was treated like a criminal. But He carried away the sins of many people and asked forgiveness for those who sinned."
(Isaiah 53 ~ The Inspirational Study Bible by Max Lucado)

This was written 800 YEARS before the birth of Jesus!

I stand in awe at the Word of our Lord.

Father, You amaze me! Totally!! Thank You for leading me to this version of a very familiar scripture - it paints the image of Jesus so clearly. When I think of how You put the stars in place, and held the seas in the hollow of Your hand, it blows me away. And here, 800 years before Jesus, You already had Your plan of salvation in place. Thank You, Lord. Thank You for loving us so much. Help us to never take Your greatness for granted.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Glory in This: That He is Lord

"Thus says the Lord: 'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I AM the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord."
(Jeremiah 9:23,24)

Above all things, glory in the fact that you know and understand the Lord your God.
Above all things, realize that He IS the Lord and there is no other.
Know and understand that it is the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness in the earth.

These are the Truths we are to glory in - to boast in - to rejoice proudly in.

These are the Truths upon which we can stake our hopes, our dreams - our trust.

In Acts 17:28, Paul says that, "It is in Him that we live and move and have our being." We are sealed WITHIN His Holy Spirit. It is not us that lives, but Christ that lives within us.

Do you see where I am going with this?

It is not about us. It is all about Him. Our lives and all of its concerns on this earth are temporal. Our focus must be on the Lord and His eternal purposes.

I love what 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 has to say about this: "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the insignificant things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God - and righteousness and sanctification and redemption - that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.'"

Amen? Amen!

"For in these I delight," says the Lord.

Teach us, Lord! Strip us of our pride that glories in itself and make us more like You. You are so wise. Your thoughts are not our thoughts, nor Your ways our ways. Thank you for Your mercy and grace. May we glorify You in all that we do. We love You Lord and are so grateful that You call us Your own.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

When It Seems Like Nothing Is Happening

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
(Galatians 6:9)

I have loved this verse for years. Often, when I'm working hard on something or standing firm in my faith believing for a miracle - and NOTHING seems to be happening - I am reminded of these promise-filled words.

Have you ever wondered what "in due season" really means? The word season stems from the Greek word for time, kairos (kahee-ross) meaning "opportune time, set time, appointed time."

Did you catch that glimmer of gold from God's Word? We will see the return on our hard work, our faithful prayers, our steadfast dreams IN THE APPOINTED TIME! God is Sovereign. Before you planted that first seed of hope and faith, God was at work designating the appointed time for the harvest of your seed.

Sometimes we see results immediately.
Sometimes it takes years for the reaping to begin.
But always, the harvest will come.

I have waited since 1992 for the launching of Jubilant Light Ministries, and now, eighteen years later, it is coming to fruition. Morning Glory is part of the ministry of Jubilant Light. I am beginning speaking engagements and I'm looking forward to published bible studies. I look forward expectantly for my seeds to continue to produce a harvest - in His time.

What is your dream? Your faithful prayer request?

God is never late. Nor will He allow a dream or desire to come about prematurely. He is always right on time - His time. His APPOINTED time.

Remember, He is Sovereign. He has all authority and He knows all things. Our job is to trust.

Either we believer Him or not.
Either we take Him at His Word, or not!

Did you plant a seed? Then tuck the knowledge of that planting away with faith and wait expectantly.

Your harvest is guaranteed - in its appointed time.

I love You, Lord. You are SO faithful. When I can't depend on anything else, I can always depend on You to honor Your Word. Thank You, Lord. Help us to not grow weary and discouraged. When the enemy tries to come in and snatch our seeds of hope and promise, open our eyes to recognize him and to resist him, according to Your Word. You, Lord, are Sovereign. That's as good as snuggling under a warm blanket. It breeds contentment. Thank You, Lord.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Active, Effective Word of God

"For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
(Hebrews 4:12)

This is a fantastic verse proclaimed frequently from behind the pulpit, but have you ever wanted to get down to the meat of it and chew a little? I think I know your answer, and yes, I want to chew on it, too.

"For the Word of God is living and powerful..."

Let's start with the cross-reference for living which is Psalm 147:15, "He sends out His command to the earth; His Word runs very swiftly." That doesn't sound mundane or stagnant, does it? His word is running swiftly over the earth accomplishing God's command! Now couple that with powerful. The Greek word for powerful is energes (en-er-gace) which is comparable to energetic. Powerful (energes) indicates something being active, at work or effective. Energes is the opposite of idle or ineffective or inactive.

God's Word is active (living), running about looking for those of us who need support. It is working in us, transforming us into the image of His Son, Jesus.

Think about it. In our language, word is typically used as a noun. But God wants us to consider His Word as a verb - active, working, accomplishing purposes. Hmmm...How can that be? I'm going to show you. But first, we have to chew a little more - dig a little deeper.

There are two cross-references I want to point out: Isaiah 49:2 and Ephesians 6:17:

Isaiah 49:2 is subtitled, "The Servant, the Light to the Gentiles." This is a Messianic prophecy and reads, "And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword;" Or, loosely translated, "And God has made Jesus'words like a sharp sword."

Ephesians 6:17 reads, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."

Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah 49:2.

He is the Word of God
- logos (loh-goss): complete idea - manifested in the flesh.

And Jesus is the Word of God
- rhema (hray-mah): what is immediately applied to our lives; the Promise of God - which transforms us. His Spirit within us is like a two-edged sword - sharp, powerful, available at our point of need.

So what is the take-away? The Word of God is ACTIVE in our lives, accomplishing His purposes in us and through us. His Word is sharp as a sword when we need protection in times of spiritual warfare.

And His Word is sharp enough to cut to the quick of things - to the discernment of our thoughts and intentions. Ouch!

But that is how we are changed into the image of Christ.
And that is necessary because a very Holy God yearns to dwell in intimate relationship with His children.

Lord, This was a tough one. Enlighten us, Father, that we might understand the complexities of Your Word a little more. We have the foundation down pretty well, but we long for deeper understanding and insight. Thank you for teaching us. And thank You for loving us enough to send Your Word in the flesh so that we could dwell with you forever. You are precious, Lord.