Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

"Then Jesus spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart."
(Luke 18:1)

"Men always ought to pray and not lose heart"
- don't give up, don't let the enemy convince you that your Heavenly Father is not interested.

Patient, persistent and persevering prayer is critical in your walk of faith.

Ben Patterson, in Deepening Your Conversation With God, says the following: "Products of a culture of instant gratification, we give up if we don't see a fairly quick response to our prayers. But praying, like so many matters of the kingdom of God, is like farming. Imagine a farmer turning the soil, adding fertilizer, planting seeds, sprinkling a little water - then standing over the spot for a few hours, waiting for something to happen, and when no shoot comes up, walking away, shaking his head and saying, 'Well, I guess that didn't work.' Farmers know better. Crops take persistent cultivation and time to yield a harvest. Like good farming, good praying demands of us a quality of character Friedrich Nietzsche called ' a long obedience in the same direction.'"

"A long obedience in the same direction."

I love that!

I have often heard it said that when you think God is doing nothing, that is when he is doing the most. Remember, He has to work through us most of the time to carry out His work. When we can't see what He is doing it is usually because He is putting all the pieces together for us.

I have a great illustration to share with you.

When my husband, David, was in seminary we were definitely living by faith. We had a three year old, four year old and a newborn. It was not unusual for us to get down to $1.50 in the bank. One day I complained, "Lord, I know you are going to come through for us - You always do - but why does it always have to be at the last minute?!"

I received a prompt reply.

"Nan, I am not the one who is late. I have to work through my people. How many times have I asked you to take some groceries to your neighbor or give someone $25.00 to which you replied, 'Yes, Lord.' You were excited to give but you let other things get in the's raining, the kids are napping, I can't get there today so I'll do it tomorrow. In the meantime, your friend is asking ME for a miracle that YOU are going to supply and three days later you finally get around to doing what I asked of you. You were part of the answered prayer that my child so desperately needed."

Ewww...It makes sense doesn't it?

Romans 12:12 reads, "...rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer."

Colossians 4:2, "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving."

The Father hears us when we cry out to Him. Trust that. Know that. And He WILL respond. Just remember that He has to work through us. Remember also that often there are battles in the heavenlies that we know not of. Satan wants to thwart our walk with God. He wants to stop God's intervention in our lives. And he will put up a good fight.

"Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!"

As our elders have taught us, "You've just got to pray it through!"

"The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." (James 5:16, The New Living Translation)

Lord, You are teaching me so much about prayer. Thank You for that. We underestimate the power of prayer and I think we try to confine it to our human understanding when it is SO much more. Open our eyes that we might see and comprehend the vast riches that prayer affords - not material riches, but spiritual riches, a union with Almighty God. You are precious Lord. We love You and desire to know You more.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Let Your Roots Grow Deep

"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness."
(Colossians 2:6,7, The New Living Translation)

I want to share with you the cry of my heart. My spirit aches with the desire to stir up hunger and thirst for God's precious Word within each of you, my readers. For too long, our churches have kept us on milk, when actually spiritual maturity requires meat - the meat of the Word. Granted, if you give a newborn solid food before he or she is ready, they will choke. BUT. Once that child is 7 or 8...25 or 30? It's high time they begin to chew on some meat.

Or, better yet, get out a shovel and DIG!

That sounded critical, didn't it? I'm sorry. It's just that there is such a wealth of riches untold in His Word. Sometimes I feel like I will bust because I want so much to ignite a flame within those I come in contact with. It is sad to me that most of us do not know what our Bibles contain. The Word of God is His love letter to us. It is our inheritance. It is a fountain of Living Water beckoning to us to come and drink, to drink deeply of its life source.

The Lord wants us to feast on His Word every day.

Paul told the Church at Colosse after they had accepted Jesus as their Lord they were to follow Him - become His disciple, to walk out their faith IN Him. He wanted them to take the next step. Paul wanted them to KNOW the One in Whom they had believed.

Isn't it interesting that we are told to let our 'roots' grow deep?

Consider Isaiah 61:1-3, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

"That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

Can you see God's purposes here?

JESUS came to set us free, to heal our broken hearts, to comfort and console, to forgive us of our sins so that we could be reconciled to our Creator. With what result? That we would be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. Why? That He might be glorified through us.

Every tree begins with a tiny seed. But then that seed takes root. It sends out a tap root to find the stream of water that will sustain it during the harshest of droughts. Before long a precious sprout breaks through the hard crust that held it captive and stretches its branches toward the sun.

And then it grows and drinks and basks in the light of day.
And then it grows some more and drinks and basks in the light of day.

And before too long that tiny seed has grown into a mighty oak or a delicate dogwood. Perhaps the seed becomes a Cedar of Lebanon or a red-leaf maple bringing joy to all that partake of its glory.

The point is: the seed GREW and glorified its Creator.

Beloved, LET your roots grow deep. LET your lives be built on Him.
An adventure awaits that cannot be described. The Lord will reveal His mysteries to you. You will learn to hear His voice, to recognize His promptings. You will know beyond the shadow of any doubt that you are not alone and that you are loved beyond comprehension.

I'm excited! Just think...the planting of the Lord, rooted in Him, established in Him, becoming like Him.

"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord - Who is the Spirit - makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image." (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Father, This was another strong word that You have given us, but we thank You for loving us enough to care. We know that You desire Your best for us, and that best can only come by learning Who You are and who we are to You. I ask You to stir up that hunger within us. Ignite the flame of Your Holy Spirit and set us aglow with Your love. Enlighten the eyes of our hearts to understand Your Word. Awaken our hearts to love You more. Thank You, Father. We give You praise.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Lord Knows Those Who Are His

"The Lord is good, a strength and stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who trust in Him."
(Nahum 1:7)

"He knows those who trust in Him."

What an amazing thought. The Lord our God KNOWS us. He recognizes us, has knowledge of and understands us. Wow! I especially appreciate the fact that He understands us, don't you?

My husband and I have been married for 28 years. By now, we truly understand each other. I know what makes Him tick. I know how he is going to respond to a situation long before it actually happens. Why? Because I KNOW him.

And I love him.

2 Timothy 2:19 reads, "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His.'"

John 10:14, "I am the good Shepherd; and I know My sheep and am known by My own."

Have you ever thought about the definition of 'Shepherd'? The Greek word is poimen (poy-mane) which means "one who tends, leads, guides, cherishes, feeds and protects a flock." Isn't this beautiful? We are cherished by the One who made us.

Let's put this all together.

The Lord? He is good. His mercy overflows into the lives of His children. He is our refuge in the day of trouble. That's what a stronghold is - a refuge, a bastion, fortress, bulwark, citadel.

That makes me think of the old hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God by Martin Luther:

A Mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood, of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing;
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And tho' this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph thro' us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow'rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours, thro' Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.

Amen? God's truth abideth still!

The Lord is GOOD.
The Lord is our stronghold in the day of trouble.
And the Lord knows us and understands us and holds us in the palm of His hand.

Father, What a wonderful God You are. You are mighty in power, faithful in mercy. Your love endures forever. Thank You for letting us know we are cherished. We cherish You, also. You are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. You are the author and the finisher of our faith. Help us to comprehend the magnitude of these truths. Thank You for Your love. You are precious to us.

Monday, March 28, 2011

But Then Face to Face

"And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And Elisha's servant said to him, 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?' So he answered, 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, and said, 'Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."
(2 Kings 6:15-17)

Can you just imagine? Oh, Lord! Open our eyes that we might see!

A few years back I gained an understanding of a very important principle. The Lord "opened my eyes so that I could see" and understand His spiritual realm a little better. Beth Moore said it something like this: hold up some sheer fabric and look through it. The fabric is like a veil, clouding the reality on the other side of it. But take the fabric down and, behold! You can see! That is how close the spiritual realm is to us! It is right there!

1 Corinthians 13:12 states, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known."

Ephesians 6:12, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

Hebrews 12:22, "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, in the innumerable company of angels."

And perhaps my favorite, Psalm 91:11,12, "For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall lift you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone."

Several years ago I was taking my young children to basketball practice. We live in the mountains where blind curves are the norm. On this particular day a remarkable thing happened as I approached a very sharp S curve. I rounded the first part of it and suddenly felt impressed to pray, "Lord, surround us with your angels and keep us safe." I thought that was rather odd. We continued around the second part of the curve and there, aimed right at us, was a silver Suburban SUV! I slammed on the brakes and braced my children for impact. Out of the blue, this silver monster jerked right and missed us. I sat there in the middle of the road shaking and comforting my crying children. We gave thanks for the Lord's protection and then continued on to practice.

When we arrived at the gym my friend, Ellen said, "I'm so sorry I almost hit you!"

"That was you?"

"Yes. My jacket sleeve got caught on the gear shift and I lost control of my vehicle! Right at the last minute my sleeve came loose."

I told Ellen about my prayer.
I told my family about my prayer.
I told my friends about my prayer.

And now, I tell you about my prayer.
I KNOW that the Lord heard my prayer and sent His angels to surround and protect us from imminent danger.

Friends, we are not alone. The eyes of the Lord search the earth looking for those who need to be strengthened. In the heat of battle, God's army - His host of angels - surrounds us in divine protection. We look out with earthly eyes and see the impossibilities the enemy puts in our path. God looks from His heavenly throne and sees the victory.

I said..."We look out with earthly eyes and see the impossibilities the enemy puts in our path. God looks from His heavenly throne and sees the victory."

Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Father, You are so good and so very faithful. Open our eyes that we might see and know Your goodness. Open the eyes of our heart to understand things that are seemingly impossible to our finite minds. Lord, You are so amazing. We love You and give You praise!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

O God, You Are My God

"O God, You are my God: I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen You in the sanctuary and gazed upon Your power and glory.

"Your unfailing love is better than life itself; How I praise You! I will praise You as long as I live, lifting up my hands to You in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise You with songs of joy.

"I lie awake thinking of You, meditating on You through the night. Because You are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings. I cling to You, Your strong right hand holds me securely."
(Psalm 63:1-8, The New Living Translation)

The subtitle reads, "Joy in the Fellowship of God, regarding a time when David was in the wilderness of Judah."

If only we would follow David's lead when we find ourselves in the wilderness.

Pause and calmly think about it.

Father, You are our strength. You are our joy. To You we offer our praise, especially in the wilderness - that sweet sacrifice of praise. We hunger after Your Word and thirst after Your Spirit. Just as David did, we long for You in a parched and weary land where there is no water. Father, You satisfy the longing soul. In the shadow of Your wings there is refuge and joy. Hide us there Lord while we rest and find our joy in You. Bless You, Lord.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

And So You Lead Your People

"As a beast goes down into the valley, and the Spirit of the Lord causes him to rest, so You lead Your people, to make Yourself a glorious Name."
(Isaiah 63:14)

" You lead Your people."

I love that.

This journey is tough sometimes, isn't it? With its glorious mountain peaks and its pristine streams of refreshment comes those rocky ledges that threaten to crumble under our feet! Those times of weariness and fatigue are no fun.

But those times of God-given rest are AWESOME!

The Hebrew word for rest is nu'ach (noo-ahch) meaning to settle down, to be soothed or quieted, to be secure, to be still, to dwell peacefully.

Today's scripture tells us that as the Lord leads us, He sometimes causes us to rest.

Think of our Shepherd, leading us, guiding us. Our journey has taken us up the steep mountainside. We crested the ridge, breathed in the majestic sunrise of His faithful Presence and looked down upon the long road in front of us.

You know? There is great wisdom in the Lord lighting our path one step at a time, isn't there? Sometimes that long road ahead can be overwhelming. And that is when He causes us to rest - to settle down, to be soothed or quieted, to be secure. He leads us to that green pasture beside the still waters, sheltered by the shade of the mountains that call out His majesty.

I am dealing with the devastation of fibromyalgia. Most of the time I go along pretty smoothly, but then out of nowhere comes a flare-up and it knocks me to my knees (in more ways than one). About two days ago it hit me like a stone thrown from the clutches of my enemy aimed at taking me down. I slept a lot today and as I rested I kept asking the Lord to help me with Morning Glory. I thought I was going to write about when Jesus called the little children to Him - oh, how I wanted to be a little child again and be comforted by my Jesus. Isn't it interesting that the Lord led me to Isaiah 63:14 instead?

Perhaps the concept is the same. I desperately needed comfort and rest. I needed assurance and soothing. My Shepherd led me to a place of rest.

His Holy mountain surrounds me.
His gentle whispers comfort me.
And His joy gives me strength.

Do you need rest today? Has your journey been arduous lately? Do you feel like the rocky ledge beneath you is beginning to crumble?

Call out His Name! Jesus! Take His hand and allow Him to lead you to a place of rest.

And if you are too tired to walk there yourself, He will carry you.

Father, I love You. My spirit is overwhelmed by Your love. Thank You for carrying me to a place of rest. I ask You to carry my friends as well. Many are laden with burdens too heavy to bear. Many have broken hearts, shattered dreams. Many have forgotten the touch of Your love. Lead them to a place of rest in Your Presence. Strengthen them with the joy of their salvation. Stir up hope within the depths of their spirits. Thank You for Your faithfulness, Lord. We give You praise.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jerusalem, O Jerusalem

"I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord.' And now here we are, standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem.

"Jerusalem is a well-built city; its seamless walls cannot be breached. All the tribes of Israel - the Lord's people - make their pilgrimage here. They come to give thanks to the Name of the Lord, as the law requires of Israel. Here stand the thrones where judgment is given, the thrones of the dynasty of David.

"Pray for peace in Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper. O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls and prosperity in your palaces. For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, 'May you have peace.' For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem."
(Psalm 122, New Living Translation)

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Israel and her people. If ever there was a time in history that Israel needs our prayers, it is now.

Have you ever wondered why the Lord instructs us to pray specifically for the peace of Jerusalem? There are probably many answers to this question but I would like for you to consider the following:

In the Old Testament, when David wrote this psalm, Jerusalem was the "seat of God", the center of worship, God's chosen place to reside. Every year the Jews made a pilgrimage, ascending the hills to Jerusalem for their yearly feasts. The anticipation was enormous! Oh, to be in the Presence of the Lord, to be cleansed from sin - a chance to recall the goodness of the Lord their God.

So what does this have to do with you and me?

Throughout the world Jerusalem represents the Spirit of God. Do you know what I mean? Even atheists associate Jerusalem with God! Why on earth would evil desire her destruction? Because Jerusalem is precious to the Lord and to her people.

Our prayers for her are imperative. There is a battle waging that would wipe Israel off the map. There is a battle waging that would erase the evidence of God in this world.

How sad. We must take this seriously, allow God to mesh this mandate with our spirits so that our prayers for Israel are fervent and passionate.

Pray that warring angels would stand guard on her borders.
Pray for the hearts of her people.
Pray for wisdom for her leaders.
Pray for her peace.

Yes, pray for her peace. Shalu Shalom Yerushayalim!

Father God, Help us heed Your mandate. Give us a heart for Israel. Show us how we, as Christians can support and love Your special people. I pray that Your perfect love would cast away all fear from the hearts of our Jewish brothers and sisters. Grant them safety, wisdom. Comfort them in their pain. And help us understand Your heart, Lord. Thank You. Praise Your Holy Name!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

His Breath Like a Mighty Wind

"And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing, mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting."
(Acts 2:2)

As a friend of mine would say, I had a God-wink from heaven this morning.

I have been totally exhausted this week - can hardly put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of exhausted. As I walked our gargantuan puppy, Blue, this morning, my Jesus met me on our lazy country road. Not literally, but His Spirit was there in all His Glory. You see, I didn't want to walk this morning, but I knew I needed to and I knew Blue loved it. But, seriously, I could hardly put one foot in front of the other.

I prayed as I walked.
And I sang a little praise song.
And I willed my body to keep going.

That's when it happened.

A roar came up over the mountain and trumpeted through the treetops. The trees swayed like pendulums, back and forth, back and forth as the mighty, rushing wind sounded its presence.

Or should I say, sounded HIS Presence.

Blue and I stood still for a moment and watched the heavenly display. I sensed the Presence of the Lord - His peace, His joy, His strength. Oh, how I needed His strength.

I thought of the scriptures I have learned lately that directly link the Spirit of God to the wind: Psalm 18:10, "He flew upon the wings of the wind." Or, Psalm 104:3, "Who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind." And of course, Acts 2:2 which describes the Spirit of God as sounding like a mighty, rushing wind.

This is interesting. The Hebrew word for wind (Old Testament verses) is ruach (roo'-ach) which means wind as we know it and also refers to breath. The Greek word for wind (New Testament) is pnoe (pno-ay') meaning wind as we know it and breath!

The wind was as the breath of God!

The breath of God blew over me this morning bringing me strength and rest.
The breath of God blew over me this morning bringing renewal to my weary bones.

Won't you sing with me?

Breathe on me, Breath of God, Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love, And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, Breath of God, Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will Thy will, To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, Breath of God, Till I am wholly Thine,
Till all this earthly part of me glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, Breath of God, So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life of Thine eternity.

Isn't our Lord wonderful?
May you feel His breath on you this day.

Father, What would I do without You? Your love is amazing. Thank You so much for giving me strength this day. Thank You for the heavenly display of Your Glory. I love You, Lord.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Triumphant, Heavenly Joy!

"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance - an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

"You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls."
(1 Peter 1:3-9)

What a glorious passage of Scripture!

The promises contained within are many, but a few of the standouts are:

By His great mercy we have been born again.
We live with great expectation - a living hope.
We have a priceless inheritance KEPT in heaven for us.
God's power protects us - KEEPS us - through our faith until that Day of salvation.
There is wonderful joy ahead.
Our trials prove that our faith is pure.
Even now, we can rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy - a triumphant, heavenly JOY!
The reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of our souls.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord! My heart is full as I think of the redemptive work He has provided for you and me. Our minds can't wrap any true understanding around so great a knowledge. But our spirits...our spirits rejoice with a triumphant, heavenly joy as we fall into the embrace of the Spirit of God within us. I think of that sweet aroma, that heavenly fragrance that drifts up to the Lord our God as we worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Can you sense the Presence of God as you envision His sweet, sweet fellowship that occurs as we appreciate His love? Amazing, isn't it?

Our God is an awesome God!

Father God, How wonderful You are! Blessed be Your Holy Name! Thank You for Your salvation. Thank You for our inheritance. And thank You for KEEPING us until that glorious Day when we will see Jesus face to face. Triumphant, heavenly joy...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Even From There

"But if from there you will seek (inquire for and require as necessity) the Lord your God, you will find Him if you truly seek Him with all your heart and mind and soul and life. When you are in tribulation and all these things come upon you, in the latter days you will turn to the Lord your God and be obedient to His voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; He will not fail you or destroy you or forget the covenant of your fathers, which He swore to them."
(Deuteronomy 4:29-31, Amplified Study Bible)

"But if from there you will seek the Lord..."

From there, WHERE?

The children of God were being greatly influenced by the surrounding cultures of their day. Many of them were engaging in blatant idolatry. Nothing new there. It seemed that the Lord God was only THE LORD GOD when they needed a miracle or two. Otherwise, their walk with Him was pretty flimsy.

I know. OUCH!

Moses is giving them a good old-fashioned tongue lashing. He is commanding obedience from the Israelites, regardless of how good the temptations feel at the moment.

I know. Another OUCH!

But, what is the message here? Our God is a merciful God! He will not fail you or destroy you or forget the covenant which places us in the palm of His hand.
The Word clearly says, "But if from THERE you will seek the Lord your God, you will find Him IF you truly seek Him with all your heart and mind and soul and life" (verse 29).

Even from THERE.

"Oh where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there" (Psalm 139:7,8)


Have you found yourself wandering from the Lord? Are you empty? Desperate? Are there other gods in your life that take you away from your Father's embrace? The Lord stands waiting with outstretched arms, ready to receive you, ready to restore you...ready to love you with an everlasting love.

IF you truly seek Him with all your heart and mind and soul and life, He will be found.

A good place to start is on your knees.
That's where He brought me this morning.

Father, we love You. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Your faithfulness astounds me. We give You glory and honor and praise.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Shout Hallelujah!!

"Indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying: 'For He is good, for His mercy endures forever,' that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; For the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

"Then Solomon spoke: 'The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud. I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever.'"
(2 Chronicles 5:13-6:2)

I learned something new today.
I love it when that happens.

I have known that throughout the Old Testament, the Lord often revealed His Presence in a cloud. Perhaps the most noteworthy example is when He led the children of God through the desert with a cloud by day and a fire by night. Or, remember each time Moses went up on Mt. Sinai to meet with God, the cloud of the glory of the Lord descended upon the mountain? I don't know why, but each time I pictured this cloud, it was bright. Did you think the same thing? Well, apparently we were wrong.

"The Lord said He would dwell in the DARK cloud."

That verse threw me for a loop today.
God is Light and Love and all things wonderful, right?
Then why is He dwelling in a dark cloud?


Have you ever noticed the clouds when the sun is right behind them? They are much darker than the clouds elsewhere in the sky. Why? Could it be the darkness is the shadow created by the bright light of the sun? Just sayin'. Could be. Probably is.

Exodus 20:21 reads, "And the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was."

Again...darkness? My awesome God in darkness?

You and I are children of God and yet we all go through periods of darkness. Darkness is not a happy time. Darkness is pain and anguish.

BUT. We are children of God, locked into covenant with Him because of His love. He promises to never leave us, nor forsake us. His Spirit dwells within us. So...


If I understand that God is with me and yet I find myself in a dark place, could the darkness actually be because He is with me? God's brilliant Light of His Presence OVERSHADOWS the evil invading my life. The reality of my darkness becomes the reality of His Presence.


By George, I think I just discovered His Light in the darkness!
Now that is something to shout Hallelujah about! Any takers?

Father! Wow! Thank You for opening our eyes to see this Truth! I love it when that happens. I thought I understood about finding Your Light in the darkness - finding Your Presence in our struggles. But now, I have a new and better understanding. I can sense Your Spirit coming on the scene when Your child calls out to you and the brilliance of Your Light overtaking the evil darkness and becoming but a shadow of Your wing. Whoa...thank You Lord so much for this gift today. Bless You, Lord.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I Cried to the Lord With My Voice

"Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, 'There is no help for him in God.' SELAH

"But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the one who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill. SELAH

"I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me (protected me). I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord; Save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; You have broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is upon Your people. SELAH"
(Psalm 3)

David is literally running from his enemies (his son, Absalom to be exact, who led a rebellious revolt of thousands against his father's leadership). So, in my mind, not only is David physically overwhelmed by his enemies' pursuit, but the emotions of the battle must have consumed him.

Sometimes our enemies have two legs and two arms, but most of the time our enemies come in the form of fear, anxiety, anger, despair...The enemy of our soul casts his forces of evil upon us and does everything he can to overwhelm us.

But God is the victor and God is with us.

This psalm is one of the first praise songs I learned as a young Christian. I can remember how faith would rise up within me as I began to understand who my God is! I felt like I could face anything and it would be okay because the Lord my God was and is a shield about me. He is faithful! He surrounds us with a hedge of protection. He fights the battle for us - IF we'll let Him. IF we will completely rely upon Him, trust Him and place our hope in Him.

Sounds easy enough, but we both know how hard this can be. It takes a conscious decision of the will to hide behind the shield of the Lord and let Him fight our enemies.

I want you to read Psalm 3 from The Message. I have to admit that I am old enough to think that sometimes The Message is a little too loosey-goosey for me, but every once in awhile, its words can make a passage sing. This is one of those times. As I read the translation of Psalm 3 from The Message I could almost hear myself wrestling with my own faith during the heat of battle:

"GOD! Look! Enemies past counting! Enemies sprouting up like mushrooms, mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery: 'Hah! No help for him from God!'

"But You, GOD, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, you lift my head high; With all my might I shout up to GOD, His answers thunder from the holy mountain.

"I stretch myself out. I sleep. Then I'm up again - rested, tall and steady, fearless before the enemy mobs coming at me from all sides.

"Up, GOD! My God, help me! Slap their faces, first this cheek, then the other, Your fist hard in their teeth! Real help comes from GOD. Your blessing clothes Your people!"

Did you catch yourself taking a few swings?! I sure did!

I leave you with an observation by Matthew Henry, "In Psalm 3 David wept and prayed, wept and sung, wept and believed; this was sowing in tears. Is any afflicted? Let him pray." (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Bible).

SELAH. Pause and calmly think about it.

Praise you Father! Thank you for the victory You offer us. Thank You for hearing our cries for help. You are awesome, God, full of power and mercy for Your children. Teach us to run to You and hide behind Your shield of glory when the enemy seeks to destroy us. Help us see that image in our minds. Thank You, Lord. We love You.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I'm Listening Lord

"God's Spirit has shown you everything. His Spirit finds out everything, even what is deep in the mind of God. You are the only one who knows what is in your own mind, and God's Spirit is the only one who knows what is in God's mind. But God has given us His Spirit. That's why we don't think the same way that the people of this world think. That's also why we can recognize the blessings that God has given us."
(1 Corinthians 2:9-12, Contemporary English Version)

The Message
ends this chapter (verse 16) with the following: "Isaiah's question, 'Is there anyone around who knows God's Spirit, anyone who knows what He is doing?' It has been answered: Christ knows and we have Christ's Spirit."

Many of you have asked me lately how to discern the will of God. Satan would have us believe that it is magical, secretive...impossible. But I am here to tell you that the Lord desires for His children to know and obey His will. As a parent, I desire for my children to know and obey MY will. It is the same principle with our Heavenly Father.

But how do we do this?
It begins with KNOWING God.
And it is punctuated by LOVING God.

To love God means to "hold him in affectionate reverence, promptly obeying Him and gratefully recognizing the benefits He has bestowed"
(Amplified Study Bible). Notice the word affectionate - intimate, loving, crazy-head-over-heels kind of love which produces a reverence that is expressed through worship, adoration, thanksgiving and obedience.

It is imperative that we know the One in whom we have believed if we ever hope to recognize His voice and guidance.

I adore my husband David. I have that crazy-head-over-heels kind of love for him. And you can be sure that when he calls me on the phone he does not have to identify himself. I KNOW that voice. Sometimes I know its him calling me before I even pick up the telephone. How? Because I know him and I know his ways.

Loving the Lord is like that.
You must spend time with Him, devour His Word, sing to Him, share everything with Him - even trivial things like finding a great parking place (just ask my kids).

Once you've got the love-connection going on it is very important to understand who you are in Christ. Why? Because, as we have just read, "You are the only one who knows what is in your own mind, and God's Spirit is the only one who knows what is in God's mind. But God has given us His Spirit." He has given us His Spirit through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God within us recognizes the voice of the Lord. The Spirit of God within us recognizes His guidance. God must be true to His Word - He cannot lie. The Spirit of God within us will guide us through the Scriptures in our search to discern the Father's will.

But Satan doesn't want you to know that. Or, at least, he will do his best to make you think it's not worth the effort.

God will never lead you to do anything contrary to His Word.
God will never DRIVE you to do something. He LEADS us like a shepherd, one step at a time.
God will whisper gently to your spirit when you take time to wait on Him and LISTEN.

Listen. That is as much a key as loving Him. Listen.

He will teach you to discern the spirit. Satan wants you to be afraid to trust. Sometimes the enemy of your soul will even hum the Twilight Zone theme song to you because he wants you to believe that LISTENING to the Holy Spirit is somehow weird or fanatical.

No. It is beautiful.
It is relational.
And it is according to the Word of God.

"Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live." (Isaiah 55:2)

Christ knows what the Spirit of God is doing and we have Christ's Spirit within us.

Father, This is such an important message You are giving us. Thank You for teaching us to hear Your voice and to discern Your will. We want to walk in obedience. We want to honor You in all that we do. Help us to squash the voice of the enemy - to remind him that we are Your children and we WILL be led by Your Spirit. Lord, we trust You to correct our steps if we get off the path. Just like a parent teaches his or her child to know what is expected of them, so You do with us. Lead us Gentle Shepherd. Open our ears that we might hear. Give us a hunger for Your Word. Stir up Your Spirit within us. We love You, Father. Blessings and glory and honor are Yours, Almighty God.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Are You Broken?

"Then he said to Jesus, 'Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.'"
(Luke 23:42)

"Lord, remember me."

These words were spoken by one of the thieves who hung on a cross beside Jesus during His crucifixion. The word, remember, actually means "consider me or think about me". "Lord, consider me when You come into Your kingdom. I want to be there with you."

But let's dissect the word a little bit. What if we put a hyphen in the middle of it? Re-member. "Lord, re-member me when You come into Your kingdom. Put me back together again, Lord. I am broken in a million places, my mind is in turmoil, my body is weary."

I realize that's not what the thief was saying because Jesus had not yet been resurrected. The work of redemption was not yet finished. BUT, for us, it is complete. So...consider. Are you broken? Do you need the Lord to put you back together again?

Corrie ten Boom writes in her devotional, Each New Day, about a story that took place in Russia. "In Russia, many people lived in a certain apartment house. The basement of the house was filled with the junk of all the families. Amongst the junk was a beautiful harp, which nobody had been able to fix.

"One snowy night, a tramp asked if he could sleep in the building. The people cleared a space for him in the corner of the basement, and he was happy to stay there.

"In a little while, the people heard beautiful music coming from the basement. The owner of the harp rushed downstairs and found the tramp playing it. 'But how could you repair it? We couldn't,' he said.

"The tramp smiled and replied, 'I made this harp years ago, and when you make something, you can also repair it.'"

Sweet friend, nothing is too difficult for God - NOTHING! Our God is able! He is mighty to save - powerful. He is a wonder-working God.

And He loves His children dearly.

Run to Him and declare His goodness. Give Him your broken places, your abundance of tears that flow like a river tumbling endlessly across the barrenness of your soul. He knows you like no other and He stands ready to help you.

Receive His love today, won't you?

Father, We all need to be reminded of this precious truth, but deep in my spirit I believe this is a word for someone in particular, someone you wish to restore to wholeness. I don't know who this sweet child is, but You do, Lord. Hold them close Father. Fill the broken places with the Balm of Gilead, with the soothing caress of Your Holy Spirit. Put them back together again. Thank You, Lord. We give You praise.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

That I Might Know Him

"That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death."
(Philippians 3:10)

Paul is writing to the Church at Philippi. In essence, Paul is sharing his testimony with the Believers there. He was a man of great achievement before his dramatic conversion experience on the road to Damascus. "Paul was a genuine Jew by birth, not a proselyte. Furthermore, he was of the stock of Israel, directly descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His tribe was the elite of Israel, and he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews in that his family retained Hebrew customs and spoke the Hebrew language" (commentary, Spirit Filled Life Bible).

Before his conversion, Paul knew God externally. He followed all of the Judaic laws. He understood God intellectually. But when the Spirit of God met him on the Damascus Road, Paul EXPERIENCED the love of God. He experienced the Word made flesh and he became a new man - old things were passed away.

He was no longer "religious". Paul became a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Before I met my Savior I knew Him intellectually. I was in church every Sunday, active in my youth group. I had compassion on others, tried to always do what was right BUT I did not know God. My self-righteousness was as filthy rags to El Elyon, the Lord Most High. I THOUGHT I knew Him, but I did not. Going to church every Sunday didn't make me a Christian anymore than driving into a garage everyday made me a car.

And then my Jesus called me by name, poured His Spirit into me, anointed me with grace and power and cleansed me with His precious blood.
Like Paul, everything I had accomplished to that point lost its significance. I, too, realized that nothing - absolutely nothing - could compare to knowing Him and making Him known.

Philippians 3;10 in the Amplified Study Bible reads like this, "For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness even to His death."

That I may KNOW Him - become deeply and intimately acquainted.
That I may KNOW Him - perceiving, recognizing and understanding His wonders.
That I may KNOW Him - daily walking in the power of His resurrection.

Is Jesus calling your name? Is the Father wooing you by His Holy Spirit, asking you to take the next step and REALLY get to know Him? "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!" He loves you with an everlasting love. He did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to bring eternal life - life with the Father forever and ever. Please, respond to His call today. He is waiting to hear from you.

Father, if ever there was a time that we need to KNOW You, not just about You, that time is now. Even for those who have answered Your call, the time for a deeper walk is now. Stir up Your Spirit within us; create a hunger and thirst that only You can satisfy. Enlighten the eyes of our hearts so that we can understand Your Word, Your ways. We are asking for wisdom and discernment. Open our ears to hear Your voice as we seek to learn. We give You praise, Lord. Thank You so much for Your desire to walk with us and talk with us and tell us we are Your own. Bless you, Lord.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Perfect Imprint of God

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men."
(John 1:1-4)

The Word of God.
Oh, that our eyes would be opened that we might see.

The Word of God.
Say it again and let it sink in. The...Word...of...God.

The world was created by the spoken Word of God.

The creations declared the glory of the Lord.

The world was taught the Holiness of God through the written word.

And the people of God declared the glory of the Lord.

The world was taught the love of God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

And the glory of the Lord walked among the people and reconciled them to Himself.

Jesus Christ. The Word of God.

Hebrews 1:3 (Amplified Study Bible) reads, "He (Jesus) is the sole expression of the glory of God (the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine), and He is the perfect imprint and very image of God's nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power. When He had, by offering Himself, accomplished our cleansing of sin and riddance of guilt, He sat down at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high."

John 1:18 (Amplified Study Bible) explains, "No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom (in the intimate presence) of the Father, He (Jesus) has declared Him (He has revealed Him (God) and brought Him out where He can be seen; He (Jesus) has interpreted Him (God) and He has made Him known).

When we hold our bibles, we are holding the Word of God - the VERY Word of God. When we read our bibles, we are reading the VERY Word of God. We certainly know these things, but take a moment to CONSIDER these things. Elohim, the Creator of the Universe, is making Himself known to us.

God's Word is a treasure. It is Holy. It is an extension of His hand and His heart.

May we never take it for granted.

Below is a video that you must see. It will take 10 minutes, but it will change your life. I will leave you with this thought: "He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God." (Revelation 19:13)

Father, Please let these images sink into our spirits and cause us to treasure Your Word like never before. Forgive us for taking Your Word for granted - for knowing it was special, but not revering it as the Holy Word of God. Forgive us, Lord. Enlighten our minds to understand Your Word. Stir up a hunger and thirst for Your Word in Your children. Thank You, Lord. Thank You for sending Your Word to reveal Yourself to us. We love you, Lord.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When the Vultures Came down

"After these things the Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I AM your shield, your exceedingly great reward.'

"Then He brought Abram outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.' And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

"And when the vultures came down on the carcasses (of the covenant-making sacrifice), Abram drove them away."
(Genesis 15:1,5,6,11)

"And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away."

Why, oh why, did the Lord include this sentence in His Holy Word? It reminds me of the "Therefores", you know...what is it "there for?" that we see throughout the Scripture.

Chapter 15 of Genesis is subtitled, "God's Covenant With Abram". This is THE foundational chapter of our covenant relationship with God. God had shown Abram "the vision" of being the father of many nations by showing him the stars. He promised Abram that this would occur through his own child, even though Abram and Sarai were barren.

Abram believed the Lord.
He trusted the promises of his God.

Then God told Abram to prepare for a covenant ceremony which involved cutting the animals in two and the covenant parties passing between them. It was these carcasses that Abram protected from the vultures.

I've had vultures that tried to snatch away God's promises. Have you? They are called self-doubt, insecurity, fear, depression, guilt. Anything that would come to devour the Word of the Lord meant for my personal pilgrimage.

What did Abram do when these creatures of prey sought to consume evidence of the Covenant? Did he politely shoo them away? NO! Abram DROVE them away! DROVE!

Maybe that is what we should do.

We need to be actively engaged in driving the vultures away. It's not difficult to see them circling, looking for an opportunity, a chink in our armor. They are actually not so sneaky, these vultures. They are very brazen.

This just occurred to me: Maybe we should EXPECT vultures when the Lord shows us a promise. Verse 11 says, "And when the vultures came down..." It doesn't say, "And suddenly vultures appeared out of nowhere." No, the Word says, "And WHEN the vultures came down..." I believe Abram must have anticipated them.

That's what we should do.
But then what?

We should speak the Word against the "principalities of darkness" that come as thieves to steal the evidence of God's promises:

"God's love casts away all fear."
"The joy of the Lord is my strength."
"I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength."
"He has cast my sins as far as the east is from the west."

God is faithful to His Word. He is faithful to His child. Stand on the promises He has whispered to your heart. I believe it thrills Him to give you the desires of your heart AS you delight yourself in Him. But've got to expect the vultures to come.

And when they do, put the key in the ignition and DRIVE!!

Father, This is such an important lesson for us. The last thing the enemy wants is for us to stand on Your promises and walk in obedience to the things You have shown us. Put this into our spirit and let it take root and bear fruit. Give us the determination to look for the vultures and then to act swiftly to drive them away. Thank you Lord.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fill Up the Empty Place With Praise

"Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great king above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.

"Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand."
(Psalm 95:1-7)

I have spent the day in the glorious sunshine, working in the yard, tending to a grapevine that must be about 75 years old. The base of its vine is the size of a small tree! It is gnarled and twisted. And determined.

As I worked with its trailing branches I thought of its life story. Someone many years ago planted it with great care. I can imagine them tilling the soil, watering it, propping it up when its reach was a little farther than the gardener planned. This old grapevine has survived droughts, floods, hail, snow and wind strong enough to topple the grandest of trees.

Yep, it's a survivor.
In my little creative mind I think I know why.
It's because of praise.

Maybe not praise as we know it, but praise just the same. No, my grapevine exudes a true expression of praise. Praise that resonates deep within, through the winter storms, the bitter cold, the harsh winds. Praise that courses through the vine with a knowing that the time of joyful new life will come just as sure as the gardener that planted it.

Read carefully the words spoken by the Holy Spirit to Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved, during a time of devotion:

"It is My Life I am giving you. It is not an emotion; it is not a virtue, though these may subsequently follow. It is Myself. Divine grace, heavenly love, infinite mercy, fathomless peace - all these will spring forth unbeckoned and irrepressible out of the depths within you because My Spirit has taken residence there. If there is dryness within your soul and you do not have this life flowing forth, you need not grieve or chide yourself for being empty. Fill up the empty place with praise. Through praise you may open to Me the gates to your soul's temple. The King will enter and bring His glory. The Rose of Sharon shall bloom in your heart, and His fragrance will be shed abroad."

Fill up the empty place with praise. Let it course through your veins stirring the life within you, "For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods."

Father, You are our God. You are worthy of our praise. We recognize Your hand in our lives and thank You for it. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that dwells within, guiding, comforting and teaching us of Your goodness. You, Lord are the Great King, the Mighty God. We give You praise.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Heart Breaks With Longing

"Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live; and I will observe Your Word (hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it). Open my eyes, that I may behold the wondrous things out of Your law. I am a stranger and a temporary resident on the earth; Hide not Your commandments from me. My heart is breaking with the longing that it has for Your ordinances and judgments at all times."
(Psalm 119:17-20 (Amplified Study Bible)

I will observe Your Word, Lord. I will hear it, receive it into my heart, love what You are saying and then obey.

Wish it was that easy, but as you read these words, can you feel the Spirit stirring within you? Yes!

As His children, we are growing in His grace. We are learning to hear His voice, to discern His Spirit. We are learning to "open our eyes that we might see, and our ears that we might hear". Amen? It's a journey. A blessed journey - sometimes through the wilderness, sometimes standing high on the mountain, sometimes curled up in our Father's lap...but, always a journey with Him.

Clara H. Scott (1841-1897) wrote a beautiful hymn about these very thoughts:

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key,
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave-notes fall on my ear,
Ev'rything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let it bear
Gladly the warm truth ev'rywhere;
Open my heart, and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my heart, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

SELAH. Bless the Name of the Lord.

Father, Hear the cry of our hearts. We know that none of us walk in perfection, but we desire to please You in all things. Open our eyes that we might see and understand. Open our ears that we might hear Your still, small voice within. Open our hearts to love You more and to honor You always. You are precious, Lord.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

THAT'S How Much We Are Loved

"I will go before you and trample down the walls and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, AM the God of Israel."
(Isaiah 45:2,3)

Historically, this passage of Scripture concerns the prophetic message of Cyrus who 210 years later, would successfully attack and release Judah from Babylonian captivity. But, as we have learned, anything that concerns Israel (literally or spiritually) concerns us. We, as Christians, have been grafted into the covenant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Let's consider these verses as they pertain to us spiritually.

Recognize that these verses are referring to going into battle against a HUGE and STRONG enemy. Can I get a witness? Everywhere I turn people are struggling in some way. Yes, there is joy deep in their souls. Yes, they know their God is in control. But the battle between flesh and spirit is strong. In some cases their Light is but a flicker, and that is by sheer determination. I KNOW!!

"I will go before you and trample down the walls and make the crooked places straight." 'Make' is yashar (yah-shar) in Hebrew. It means to "make straight, right, upright, pleasing, good." God is saying that He will straighten out the path of His precious child. He will break down the barriers, remove the obstacles and give us the strength to surmount enormous difficulties.

"I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron."
This is actually referring to the gates allowing entry through the walls of ancient cities. The bars of iron attached the gates to the walls. But as I read these words I thought of prison bars. I thought of how the enemy holds us in bondage to things in our lives even though the price for our freedom has already been paid.

I said, "The price for our freedom has already been paid." Glory!!

Isaiah 61:1 reads, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound."

JESUS has gone before us.
JESUS has trampled down the walls of our enemies.
JESUS has set us free!

Why? "That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, AM the God of Israel."

THAT'S how much we are loved.

Father, Thank You. We praise Your Holy Name and bless You for Your mercy. We thank You for Your intervention, for the sacrifice of Your Son so that we might be free. Help us walk in Your freedom, to understand that we are no longer bound by our enemies. Our captivity is a deception that we choose to believe. Bring our thoughts captive to You, Lord. We cast down our imaginings and bring them under Your authority. Transform us by the renewing of our minds. You are faithful and good. Your love is from everlasting to everlasting. Bless You, Father!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Slinging Those Enemies Far, Far Away

"Yet a man has risen to pursue you and seek your life, but the life of my lord (David) shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; and the lives of your enemies He shall sling out, as from the pocket of a sling."
(1 Samuel 25:29)

In David's flight from Saul he encountered a booger of a man named Nabal. The scriptures describe him as "harsh and evil in his doings" (verse 3). Nabal was all about Nabal, but he had a godly wife named Abigail. It is Abigail's voice we hear speaking in the above verse. She is making an intervention on behalf of David.

Abigail is addressing the issue at hand, but I would like for you to consider the enemies in your own life: insecurity, fear, anger, slander, job loss, disease, broken relationships. An enemy doesn't have to have two arms and two legs. An enemy of the soul comes in many forms.

What does the Word of God say as David is facing his enemy? David will be "bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God". I have learned that this is a metaphor taken from the ancient custom of binding up precious valuables in a bundle - like a bag - and then carrying them to prevent them being broken or stolen.

Can you see the picture? We are God's special treasure, the apple of His eye. When we are threatened, imagine the passion of a Father's love bundling us up as a safeguard to protect and preserve us. We are that special to Him. His love is fierce.

What happens to our enemies? "He shall sling out the lives of your enemies, as from the pocket of a sling."

Enemies being slung out of our lives.
Far and away.
How about far, FAR and away?

I like that. I can see myself peering outside of my little bundle strapped on my Daddy's side watching my enemies hurl through the air.

Father, You are so awesome! Thank You for loving us so. Thank You for preserving us and protecting us from our enemies as we surrender our lives to You. We are held in the palm of Your hand, safe in Your bundle of life-giving love. Praise You, Father.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do You Also Want to Go Away?

"From that time many of His disciples went away and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?' But Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.'"
(John 6:66-69)

I read a great article this morning by Bob Butler, "Why I'm Not A Committed Christian".

In this article Mr. Butler discusses the difference between a "committed" Christian and a "surrendered" Christian. He included the verses above in his discussion. I was so moved by this article that I prayed and studied these verses myself. It is my prayer that my words will be heart-changing for you just as the Holy Spirit has been working on me all day.

Jesus is addressing the multitude that follows Him from place to place, thus, His followers. They enjoy His miracles. He's a great public speaker - even entertaining at times. Because they are regulars at His gatherings, it is quite the social event. It's not uncommon to see neighbors and friends, probably family members as well.

Yep. This Jesus is pretty remarkable. You never know what this faith-thing can do for ya.

Then Jesus gets down to the nitty-gritty. At the beginning of Chapter 6 of John, Jesus feeds the 5,000. The people were awe-struck. Right after this, Jesus walked on the water. As you can imagine, word traveled fast among the followers. They were amazed, intrigued...interested.

But then Jesus began to answer their questions. He didn't tell them what they wanted to hear - things that would tickle their ears and make them feel good. No, He spoke to them of spiritual truths that were hard to swallow. The "followers" wanted the ability to "work the works of God" (verse 28). They wanted to see more miracles of Jesus to give them reason to believe Him (verse 30).

Perhaps instead of following and loving Jesus, they were following and loving what He could do for them.

I KNOW. That one hurt me too.

Well into Chapter 6, Jesus is explaining to the followers that He is the Bread of Life, that they must partake of His body and blood in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Not exactly what they wanted to hear. They murmured among themselves, "Isn't this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?" (verse 42)

What Jesus was teaching them was not what they had in mind. It wasn't according to their agenda, their idea of religion. Jesus was teaching them of a personal embrace and trust AND belief in the ways of the Father. God's ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts - not now, not back then. These "followers" were trying to understand spiritual things with an intellectual mindset.

So what does this have to do with "surrender" versus "committed"?

Consider the following quote from John Gill's, Exposition of the Entire Bible: "Many who followed Christ heard Him, professed to believe in Him, were even baptized in His Name, but were not true disciples, only nominal ones. They had never learned of the Father, otherwise they would have known what it was to come to Christ, as the Father's gift, and under the drawings of His grace, and would not have been offended by the words of our Lord." John Gill goes on to say the "followers" were interested in setting up their own righteousness according to their own ideals rather than submitting to the righteousness of Christ.

Being a DISCIPLE of Jesus Christ requires surrender - surrender to His authority in our lives.
It requires abandonment to His ideals, His purpose. It requires allowing Him to transform us, to renew our minds. Discipleship requires picking up our cross and following HIM, not a movement, not a generational warm-a-pew Sunday. Discipleship requires following Him and Him alone.

Why would the Lord want us to consider such a difficult message? For the same reason He spoke it to the multitudes of followers. He was concerned for their eternity.

Jesus is concerned for our eternity also.

The day is coming when we must know the One in Whom we have believed.
We can't be "grandfathered" in to the Kingdom. We must place Him as our first love, our Lord, totally surrendered to His authority.

Verse 67 reads, "Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?'"

These words brought sorrow to my heart.

Lord, Help us to understand. Open our eyes that we might see, our ears that we might hear what You are speaking to us today. Awaken our hearts to love You with every ounce of our being, to understand the omnipotence and Holiness of our Lord. Allow us to feel Your sorrow as the "followers" - those on the periphery - walked away when their discipleship began to cost something. Pierce our hearts, Lord so that we can receive Your Word. Thank You. We love You, Lord.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Loving God With Passion

"Jesus answered him, 'The foremost of all the commandments is: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." This is the first commandment.'"
(Mark 12:29,30)

This is one of those verses that we love. Most of us are very familiar with its compelling words. I don't know about you, but just hearing this passage of Scripture drums up feelings of faith - of connectedness to the Body of Christ. If I close my eyes I can hear Jesus declaring, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one!"

Love it!

Are we so familiar with this commandment that we fail to consider its meaning? Maybe. No condemnation here - just thinking about the fact that this is not a suggestion. It is the most important commandment of all.

Now, that is something to think about.

Do you suppose its importance lies in the fact that Jehovah God is LORD?
He is not a nice idea, an adventurous fairy tale, a mythological creature. He is our Lord! He is the Great and Mighty God, Elohim - the Creator of the Universe. He is holy, magnificent and His majesty is beyond description. (I'm taking Him out of that gilded box again. Can you tell?)

Jesus is quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4,5
where Moses has called all the people of Israel together to let them know what the Lord requires of them as they journey into the land flowing with milk and honey - the Promised Land. I think it is awesome that Jesus is teaching these same requirements for entering the Kingdom of God.

Same Lord.
Same Promised Land.
Same children of God.

As I studied, I broke down the words in Hebrew and Greek and discovered something that made a difference to my understanding. I hope it will help you also. The word 'with' - WITH all your heart, soul, mind and strength - is ek in Greek and means "from the origin of or out of". We are being told to love the Lord out of the origin of ALL of our being - our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength. Think of a well-spring. Isn't that beautiful?

Deuteronomy 10:12
(Amplified Study Bible) reads, "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you but reverently to fear the Lord your God, that is to walk in all His ways, and to love Him and to serve the Lord your God with all your mind and heart and with your entire being."

The Lord would say, "My child, give me your heart for out of it springs rivers of Living Water. Love Me passionately, recognize My Holiness. Live in My love, breathe in My Spirit and taste and see that I AM good."

We love You, Father. Teach us to love You passionately, with our entire being.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Sacrifice of Praise

"I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good."
(Psalm 54:6)

Many years ago I learned a spiritual truth that I have practiced and shared over and over. It is this: When you cannot praise God for your circumstances, you can ALWAYS praise Him for Who He is.

Powerful, isn't it?

This is what David is doing in Psalm 54:6 - he is willingly, freely, spontaneously offering a sacrifice to his God, even though things are not looking so good.

David is hiding in the Wilderness of Maon. Saul is in hot pursuit and will surely kill David if he finds him. As Psalm 54 begins, David cries out, "Save me, O God, by Your Name and vindicate me by Your strength. Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth."

Can you hear the desperation in his voice?

Only the Lord can save David from his enemies and he knows it. But then he calmly pauses - SELAH - and thinks about his Deliverer, "Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those who uphold my life" verse 4).

And THEN David FREELY offers a sacrifice to his God - a gift.
He gives Him praise and acknowledges God's goodness and mercy. David's life was still in peril, but he chose to honor the Lord and put his trust in Him.

Why would praise be important at a time like this? Because praise ushers in the Presence of the Lord. The circumstances may not change, but the heart and mind of the worshiper changes in the midst of the situation. The Holy Spirit rains down His power, He anoints His child with peace, He squelches the fear.

When you cannot praise Him for your circumstances, you can ALWAYS praise Him for Who He is.

Father, as I wrote these words my spirit kept singing, "Praise Your Name Lord Jesus. Praise Your Name Lord Jesus. You're my Rock. You're my fortress. You're my deliverer, in You will I trust. Praise Your Name Lord Jesus." I love that song, Lord. Thank You for reminding me of it. We offer you praise and glory and honor because of Who You are - no strings attached. You are a great and mighty God.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Remember Your Great and Awesome Lord

"Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night. Then Judah said, 'The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall'...And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, 'Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.'"
(Nehemiah 4:9,10,14)

Nehemiah is a wonderful book to study. The wall surrounding Jerusalem needed to be rebuilt in order to keep out her enemies. Nehemiah is the chosen leader for the job. This is a great lesson on restoration, especially that of a nation. However, I want us to think about the broken places in our own lives.

"There is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall..."

That's a good way to put it, isn't it? When we find our world falling apart it can seem overwhelming - impossible. The broken places are surrounded by rubble. Crumbled hearts and people stare us in the face. Maybe job loss and financial security rolls away and tumbles into the mound of rubble surrounding us. A life of depression has replaced the one filled with hope and joy. There is no strength left - no protective barrier - to fight off the enemy. We lay vulnerable and frightened in the dark.

There is so much rubbish it seems impossible to rebuild the wall.

What did Nehemiah tell the children of Israel when they wanted to give up? Verse 14 says, "Do not be afraid of them (the enemies). Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses."

Don't give up.
Remember your great and awesome Lord.

I love Isaiah 58:12, "Those from among you shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Paths to Dwell in."

You, friend shall rebuild the old waste places when you remember the great and awesome Lord. He will strengthen you to repair the breaches - the broken places in your life. He will anoint you with power to restore your paths.

The Hebrew word for restorer is shub (shoov). It means to "turn back, return, retrieve." It also means to "go back to a point of departure" (commentary, Spirit Filled Life Bible).

Go back to a point of departure.
Oh my goodness.
Let it sink in.

Go back to the point of departure.

Can you identify the turning point in your life? Or, can you identify when the broken place in your heart occurred? Let Jesus take you back to that place, clean off the rubble of disappointment and pain and help you rebuild the wall there. The great and awesome Lord is with you. You are His child. He will strengthen you; yea, He will help you. He will anoint you with power to overcome and repair the breach in your life, for He desires wholeness for His children.

But, you must REMEMBER Him.
Remember your great and awesome Lord, the lover of your soul, your Redeemer and friend. Take His hand and return to the place of departure and ask Him to repair the broken place.

I've heard He is quite the cornerstone when it comes to building.

Father, we love You so much. You truly are a great and awesome Lord. Thank You for caring enough for us to desire our wholeness. When we are broken, You weep for us. Send Your power and restore Your people. There is much work to be done. Thank You Father.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Father God Closed the Door

"In the six hundredth year of Noah's life...on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened...On the very same day Noah and Noah's sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark...And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in. Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth...All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died."
(Genesis 7:11,13,15,16,17,22)

"And the Lord shut him in."
God closed the door behind Noah.

I have never noticed this before today. I mean, I assumed it, but I had never SEEN these words before. And being the thinker that I am, I pondered these words for quite a while and asked the Lord why He caused these words to stand out to me.

This is what I saw...

Destruction had begun.
The storm was raging.
And God was right there with His child.

He wasn't hovering in the heavens above watching His world fall apart. No! He was right there - Jehovah Shammah - the Lord is There. He closed the door, shutting out the destruction from his righteous child.

If I close my eyes I can see Noah hurriedly getting his family on board, shepherding the animals up the ramp to the ark and keeping an eye to the sky. I believe there had to be some fear, some uncertainty. After all, Noah was human like you and me. The rain began to come down in torrents. In my imagination, the wind began to howl - Noah held to the railing to keep his footing steady. Darkness threatened the daylight as the sun was obscured by the impending doom. Finally, everyone was safe inside.

And God closed the door for him!

God was right there in the middle of the crisis caring for His child. I wonder if Noah's eyes were opened so that he saw the Spirit of God assisting him or was he so consumed with the storm he forgot to consider where the Lord might be?

Know what else struck me? Verse 22: "All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died."

When I read these words I almost cried. How often do we forget the many facets of the Lord? He is Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe, the Great I AM...AND He is Father God. The Scriptures tell us that He experiences many emotions - anger, jealousy, joy, and hurt.

Our sin hurts him.
When I read verse 22 I felt the Lord's pain.

The phrase, breath of life, in Hebrew is nishmat chayim. In Genesis 2:7 we see the extraordinary beauty of these words: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life - the nishmat chayim; and man became a living being."

Man took his first breath because his Father God shared His own breath with him.

And now, "All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died."

God opened my eyes to see His sorrow.
I had always assumed He felt wrath at this point. I don't think that anymore.

The Lord God was there in the crisis.
The Lord God closed the door behind Noah to keep him safe.
Perhaps, the Lord felt enormous sorrow as the creation He loved died from sin.

SELAH. Pause and think about it.

Father, My heart still feels Your sorrow as I pen these words. Thank You for letting us see this side of You. We are Your special treasure, Your precious possession, the delight of Your heart. I don't think we realize that our sin HURTS you. We think it makes You angry, but You have shown us that it brings You sorrow. Forgive us, Father, for when we sin against You and separate ourselves from You. Cleanse us, Lord. Fill us up to overflowing with Your mercy and love.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Child, Enter Into My Word

"But I (the Lord God) will establish My covenant with you (Noah); and you shall go into the ark - you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you."
(Genesis 6:18)

This verse contains the first mention of biblical covenant. In so doing, God has made provision for Noah's deliverance - salvation - from the flood. God has given him life in the face of death.

Are you ready to learn something extraordinary? You're gonna love it!

In Hebrew, the word for ark is teivah. Not only does teivah mean ark, it also means 'Word'. God told Noah to enter into the teivah - the ark, the Word, the beginning of God's Covenant relationship with His people - and he would be saved.

The Father says to us, "Child, enter into My Word and be saved."

Jews believe that "One should enter into and cleave to the letters and words of Torah and prayer. This will protect the person and his entire family, enabling them to receive from God all their necessities" ( The Torah is the Word of God.

Sound familiar? As Christians, don't we believe basically the same thing?

Most of us are familiar with John 1:1,4 - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...In Him was life and the life was the light of men."

Enter into the teivah - the Word - and be saved.

Revelation 19:13 reads, "He (Jesus) was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God."

Enter in the teivah - the Word - and be saved.

I think the lesson here is awesome and, once again, links us to the Old Testament and our Jewish brothers and sisters. Noah's world was full of corruption and violence, but Noah found favor in God's sight. Noah was counted as righteous before God. But in order for Noah to be spared death he had to obey the Lord's instruction and build a HUGE ark. (And might I add, he had to begin building before there was a drop of rain! AND I'll bet his wife and neighbors thought he was crazy!)

But Noah knew God.
Noah trusted God.
And Noah obeyed God. Even if it didn't make much sense.

God was beginning to make an awareness of Who He was as God and who they were as His people.

Our world is full of corruption and violence, but our God - our AMAZING God - has made a way of escape. Once again, He has saved His people through the teivah - an ark, His Word. His Name is Jesus. In Him we live, we move and we have our being! In Him we find peace. In Him we find refuge.


Not just an occasional high-five.
Not just a rushed "good morning, Lord" as we hurry out the door.
Not just warming a pew on Sunday.

No. Our peace, our life, our refuge is found IN Him!

The world around Noah and his family was drowning in their sin. But Noah and his loved ones were safe. They were abiding in the ark, waiting on God and believing for a miracle. Think of Jesus as the ark for a moment.

The Father says, "Child, enter into my Word and be saved."

Father, Thank You for, once again, linking us to Your ancient people. I just love it when You do this. Thank You. Father. Teach us to abide - to live IN Your Word. The world pulls at us constantly, our families need us, work demands our attention. But, You, Lord are our life. You are our peace, our refuge, our ark. Quicken this Truth to our spirits that we might soar with the wings of eagles above the storms - to find peace that passes all understanding. You are an awesome God and we love You!