Saturday, April 30, 2011

His Enduring Love

"Love never fails."
(1 Corinthians 13:8)

I learned the most amazing thing about this verse today.

The Greek word for "fails" is ekpipto (ek-pip-to) which means to "fall off". Several commentaries referred to the idea of falling flower petals.

Think about it.

A flower is the embodiment of beauty, the expression of glory. BUT the beauty can only last for so long and then the petal falls away. The stem remains. The roots remain. But the petal, regardless of its momentary beauty, falls away.

Love will never do that.
God's love, that is.

The love Paul is referring to is agape (ag-ah-pay) love. This is the unconditional love God has for the world. This is sacrificial love so freely given. It is pure. It is complete. It is eternal.

Without agape love, grace could not exist.
Without agape love, salvation could not exist.
Mercy, lovingkindness, peace...none could exist.

Perhaps those are the petals, but God's love is the stem. God's love is the life source for all of creation. His love prepares us for eternity and His love accompanies us there. God's love surrounds us and protects us. His love provides for us.


It will never fail.

"Behold, I am the Lord, your God; is anything too hard for Me? I am the light of the world, and the greatest darkness will never be able to quench that light. I will be to you a cloud to preserve you by day and a pillar of fire to protect you by night. Both in sunshine and in darkness, I shall be near you. You will delight in Me in your joys; and in your difficulty My love for you shall be as inescapably real as a blazing pillar of fire. Be sure of this: LOVE NEVER FAILS. Loving Me never fails to bring Me to your side. He sees Me most clearly who loves Me most dearly"
(Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts).

"He sees Me most clearly who loves Me most dearly."

I love that.
Trust in His love. Hope in His love.

God's love will never fail you.

Father, Thank You for Your love, for Your strong embrace. I pray we will never take You for granted. Open our eyes to see the magnitude of Your enduring love. Help us wrap an understanding around what eternal love means in our lives. You are so very precious to us. Bless Your Holy Name!

Friday, April 29, 2011

As Sure As The Sunrise

"I remember it all - oh, how well I remember - the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: GOD's loyal love couldn't have run out, His merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're new every morning. How great is your faithfulness! I'm sticking with GOD (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left."
(Lamentations 3: 19-24, The Message)

I don't typically begin by quoting a Scripture from The Message, but this was just too good to pass up. I love the imagery portrayed in this translation and I thought it would be the most useful in giving you encouragement and hope today.

Jeremiah is speaking.
He is extremely discouraged about Israel's rebellion towards God.
Ever feel that way? About your own rebellion towards God?
I certainly have.

Many times I have wandered out from beneath the shadow of His wing because I chose to slosh around in a pool of sorrow and frustration. Wandering alone I quickly became discouraged and overwhelmed. But, through the tears, I could make out a blurred image of my Heavenly Father watching over me, I could hear Him affectionately calling my name.

And because of this, I was able to "keep a grip on hope."

Hope. Yachal (yah-chal). This is the Hebrew way of saying that waiting and hoping in the Lord is to "steadfastly expect His mercy, His salvation, and His rescue, and while waiting, not take matters into one's own hand" (commentary, Spirit Filled Life Bible).

Jeremiah remembered the steadfast love of the Lord. He remembered God's mercies, His faithfulness. Jeremiah knew, by experience, that these attributes of God's grace were new every morning. This remembrance enabled him to keep a grip on hope.

The Good News Bible reads, "The Lord's unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise."

As sure as the sunrise.

Did you feel your heart skip a beat?

Father, What would we do without Your mercy and Your love? For sure, we would have been consumed by now. But because of Your faithfulness to Your children we can grip hope. We can wait expectantly for Your intervention. You are wonderful, Lord. Forgive our stubborn ways. Cleanse us of all unrighteousness, of all pride that causes us to try to handle life in our own strength. We love you, Father, and we stand in awe of Your goodness.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Deliberately Hurl It

"Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
(1 Peter 5:7)

This is one of those go-to verses when we feel overwhelmed, isn't it? I looked into it a little farther and I think you'll like what I found.

The Amplified Study Bible reads like this, "Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully."

Don't you love that? Casting ALL of our anxieties, ALL of our worries, ALL of our concerns, ONCE AND FOR ALL on Him.

Such a lovely thought.
Easier said than done, isn't it?

Have you ever thought about what the word, "casting" means? Obviously we know that it means to throw something off, or fling something. But, what about this? Casting also means to "deliberately hurl" something.

Deliberately hurl something.
Love it.

In my mind's eyes I can see myself as a child hurling, throwing...casting my object of concern UP towards heaven. Out of the billowing clouds emerges a mighty hand - one large enough to hold the seas in its hollow, one that is large enough to measure the width of the heavens, one that is large enough to catch and hold my worry.

But, if you notice, God's Hand responded to my deliberate action. He left it up to me to want to be rid of it and to deliberately hurl it to Him.

Maybe that should be our motive...wanting to be rid of it.
Just that thought takes the complicated out of it, doesn't it? Satan doesn't want us to be free of our worries. He doesn't want us to simplify God's truths. He wants us to wallow in self-pity. He wants us to focus on the worry so much that we can't see the hand of God reaching, waiting for us to throw that thing off.

Want to be rid of it.
I'm going to keep that in mind.
"I want to be rid of it" so I will deliberately hurl it towards heaven where the hand of my Sovereign Lord is waiting.

"Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be shaken." ~ Psalm 55:22

Father, I appreciate You so much. We make things so complicated; You make things so profoundly simple. You know how much Your children wrestle with our worries and anxieties. I think You are grieved when we submit to Satan's taunts and distractions. Thank You for giving us this beautiful image and concept of "just wanting to be rid of it." That is doable, Lord. Thank You. Help us walk in Your ways. You are an awesome and mighty God and we love You.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

He Will Carry You

"I will tell of the Lord's unfailing love. I will praise the Lord for all He has done. I will rejoice in His great goodness to Israel, which He has granted according to His mercy and love. He said, 'They are my very own people. Surely they will not betray me again.' And He became their Savior. In all their suffering He also suffered, and He personally rescued them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years."
(Isaiah 63:7-9, The New Living Translation)

"He lifted them up and carried them through all the years."

Close your eyes and imagine you are a child running and skipping on the hillside. You twirl, arms extended, face lifted toward the sun. You are free. Sin no longer has its hold on you. You dance in the sunlight with complete abandon, chasing butterflies through the highland meadow grass. You feel safe, happy. You know your Father's love.

Times goes by quickly. In your exuberance you don't see the threatening clouds building on the horizon. The storm is upon you before you can seek shelter. In your haste to outrun the storm you stumble and fall, scraping your knee, bruising your cheek. Fear grips you as the rain and wind assails its young victim. Trickles of tears give way to mournful sobs as the storm overtakes you. Brilliant, joyful light yields to the impending darkness and isolates you in the menacing shadows of fear.

Thunder bellows above you. The wind ushers in the Lord's mighty voice, "Child, child. I am here. Do not be afraid." Powerful arms scoop you up and shield you from the storm. Your head rests against His chest, your heart beating in rhythm with His.

He carries you. Yes, He carries you.

Through the wind and the rain, He carries you.
Over stones and swollen streams, He carries you.
When the enemy stalks and frightens, He carries you.

God, the Father carries you through all the years.

"I will be your God and you will be My people, My special treasure, the apple of My eye. I love you, child. You are Mine."

Father, we love You. Thank You for Your mercy and grace, for Your everlasting love. Your faithfulness towards Your children extends to the heavens, Your power and might astound us. Thank You, thank You for reconciling us to You that we might rest in Your arms, sheltered by Your love. Praise You, Father

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When God Comes Calling

"So Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, 'Please let me go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive.' And Jethro said to Moses, 'Go in peace.'"
(Exodus 4:18)

I had an "aha" moment this morning as I read this scripture.

As a young man, Moses was living in the lap of luxury in Egypt. If you recall, Moses had been adopted by Pharaoh's daughter when she found him floating in a basket in the Nile River.

In Egypt he had privilege, if he wanted it.
In Egypt he had authority, if he wanted it.

But in reality, Moses was a stranger in this foreign land.
He was born of the children of the One True God. That holy flame was within him, even though he shared his meals with the family of Pharaoh. God called to him even when his outward garments were Egyptian.

God calls to us, too.
Even though we are wrapped in the chains of bondage, God calls to us.
Even though we are clothed in Pharaoh's embroidery, God calls to us.
God causes His flame to ignite so that we know who we are.

That is what happened to Moses. Moses went out one day to see his Hebrew brethren and witnessed how hard they were forced to work as Pharaoh's slaves. When he witnessed an Egyptian beating one of the Hebrews, Moses intervened and killed the Egyptian slave master. Pharaoh found out what Moses had done and he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled Egypt and Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian where he met and married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro.

I said all of that to say this:

Moses was now free from Pharaoh's influence. Yep, life was good. Beautiful wife. Precious son. Tending sheep in the desert surrounding the mountain of God. Moses was free to worship El Elyon, the Lord Most High. He was a happy man.

And then God came calling.

"Moses, Moses! I have surely seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress. I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt. And, guess what Moses? I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt."

Although Moses was free of Egypt, he had to return to the land of his past to bring that same freedom to the children of God. He did not return as an Egyptian. He returned as a man of the One True God.


Jesus went where the people were.
He enjoyed the company of rowdy fishermen. He sought out the prostitutes to tell them of God's love and redemption. He could be found at wedding parties, in the marketplace. Jesus went where the people were - the people who needed to experience God's grace.

You might say, Jesus hung out in Egypt land.

That's what Moses did. He risked it all, out of sheer obedience, to set his brethren free from the chains of bondage. He returned to the land of Egypt, but this time he was not alone. This time he was anointed with the Spirit of Almighty God.

That's what we must do. God does not call us to isolate ourselves from the world. We are to be salt and light. We are to take the fragrance of Christ into the stench of a sinful world.

We are to be IN the world, but not OF the world.

When Moses returned to Egypt he was girded with power and robes of righteousness. He was bathed in grace. He laid down his own life to set God's people free.


Father, open our ears that we might hear You calling us to rescue Your people. Forgive us for being self-absorbed. Forgive us for being "high & mighty" and above the fray. Fill us with Your compassion and mercy. Help us see the unlovelies around us the way You see them - souls that need redemption. Thank You for Your grace. Thank You for Your love. Call to us from the burning bushes in our deserts, Lord, for we are listening. Use us, Lord. Mold us into vessels of honor for You.

Monday, April 25, 2011

And Especially Peter

"Now go and tell His disciples, and especially Peter, that He will go ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you."
(Mark 16:7, Contemporary English Version)

And especially Peter.

The Gospel of Mark offers us an extraordinary example of God's love. Remember? Peter denied knowing Jesus three times after He was arrested at the time of His crucifixion. Imagine Peter's shame, guilt...the regret.

Regret is a terrible thing.
The "if only(s)" will eat you up.

I can imagine Peter's despondency as he watched Jesus die. Peter loved Jesus. He believed Jesus was the Son of God. And yet, when confronted with his discipleship - when it counted the most - fear gripped Peter and he denied his Lord.

Jesus tried to warn Peter that this would happen. But Peter could not imagine betraying Jesus that easily. Certainly, he would never disappoint the Lord like that. Turn his back on Him? Choose self-preservation over defending the honor of Jesus? Never.

Never is a big word.
Deception is even bigger.
"The heart is most deceptive above all things."

The very actions Peter thought he would never commit, he did.
He denied that he knew Jesus.
Just like that. He denied the Son of God.

Ewww....How easily do we turn our backs on Him? We certainly never plan to. Opportunity just sneaks in and, before we know it, the deed is done. The sin is committed. The lie is told. The disobedience is blatant. We bow to the "other gods."

How did the Lord react to Peter's failure?

He reacted with enormous, unconditional love
! When the Angel of the Lord spoke to the women at the tomb, He told them, "Jesus is not here. He is risen! Go, tell His disciples, and especially Peter, that He will go ahead of you to Galilee."

Especially Peter.

Jesus knew that Peter was an emotional wreck. He knew Peter had been beating himself up for three days. And He knew Peter needed acceptance and love.

Peter needed to know that his sin had been forgiven.

Isn't that what the resurrection is all about? Sins forgiven. Reconciliation with God. Eternal love and acceptance.

Even in the most incredible moment in history - the resurrection of Jesus Christ - even then, Jesus was thinking about His disciples and their need for love.

Pretty amazing, isn't it?

Father, How often we wander away, first in the little things, inching our way towards the bigger things. Bigger according to us, that is. To you, a sin is a sin is a sin. You don't categorize them, we do. You don't condemn. We do. I do think you feel the sorrow and disappointment, though, and for that I am so sorry. Please forgive us when we fail You, when we break Your trust. And thank You, Lord for Your unconditional love. Even in the remarkable power exploding in the Resurrection, love was first on Your mind. You always think of the needs of Your children. You are so generous in Your love and mercy. Thank You, Father.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

She Knew His Voice

"And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were afraid. But he said to them, 'Do not be afraid, You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples - and Peter - that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.'"
(Mark 16:5-7)

Praise God! We serve a risen Savior!

When I think of this scene, I especially exchange hearts with Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene had been forgiven of so much. Her life had been completely transformed by the love of Jesus. She watched Him die a cruel death. She wept as Joseph of Arimathea laid His linen-wrapped body in the tomb and slowly, with great difficulty I suppose, sealed the darkness of the grave with a giant stone.

It was the Sabbath, so Mary had no choice but to wait to anoint her Lord with the spices of death.

Waiting. And wondering.
Wondering. And waiting.

Her Lord was dead. How could it be?

I'm sure grief overwhelmed her. Do you suppose there was some part of her that would not give up, would not succomb to the obvious, but, instead, would hold onto the faith in a risen Lord? But how could she even imagine such a thing? Why, it was beyond comprehension.

So many emotions. Such a conflict of faith.

I can relate. I have a very strong faith, a very intimate relationship with Jesus that has been forged in the refiner's fire many times and yet, the unexpected happens and I have to make a choice to hang on to what I believe to be true. I have to choose to believe in my risen Savior.

Even when everything around me screams, "NO!"

Just like Mary Magdelene.

I hang on with bulldog faith. I grit my teeth and take my stance and let the enemy of my soul know that I KNOW the One in Whom I have believed.

In her grief-stricken state, Mary saw Jesus, but she did not SEE Jesus. He appeared to her before all the others, but her tears blurred her heart knowledge and she did not recognize Him.

But then He spoke.
Jesus called her by name and she knew His voice.

Even when her world fell apart.
Even when Mary did not recognize the Lord in her midst.
Even then...she knew His voice.

Even then.

We give You praise, Lord. How do we thank You for the resurrection of our Savior? How do we express our love and gratitude for what He has done for us? Search our hearts, Lord and find there a warm awakening of the Holy Spirit uniting us to You, teaching us, guiding us, comforting us and revealing Who You are to us. Thank You for Jesus. I pray we never take His death and resurrection for granted. Bless Your Holy Name, Lord!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shocked and Amazed

"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent.

"But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered; They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.

"But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 'He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!'

"But You are He who took me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother's womb You have been My God. Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help.

"Many bulls have surrounded Me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me. They gape at Me with their mouths, like a raging and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.

"For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones; They look and stare at Me. They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.

"But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me! Deliver Me from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dog. Save Me from the lion's mouth and from the horns of the wild oxen!

"You have answered Me.

"I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him. And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.

"My praise shall be of You in the great assembly; I will pay My vows before those who fear Him. The poor shall eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever!

"All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations.

"All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship; All those who go down to the death shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive.

"A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation, they will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this."
(Psalm 22)

The subtitle for this psalm is, "The Suffering, Praise, and Posterity of the Messiah". It was a psalm of David written for the chief musician who set the words to the tune of "A Deer of the Dawn."

That is interesting in itself, but there is more.

In the mid 70s I was a brand new Christian. I was blessed to hear a young man, a Messianic Jew, speak to our college bible study. He spoke on Psalm 22.

I don't recall his name.
I definitely recall his message.
In fact, I have never forgotten it.

He went verse by verse through Psalm 22 and showed us its fulfillment in the Gospels' account of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I was dumbfounded. I had been raised in church, but no one had ever told me about how the Old Testament laid the foundation for what I believe in the New Testament.

I was shocked and amazed.

Are you up for some shock and amazement? I want to challenge you to search the scriptures on this long holiday weekend and discover the parallels and intersections of Psalm 22 with the Gospels. You will find everything from the obvious, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" to overlooked insights like "My bones are out of joint" and "I can count all My bones." (None of Jesus' bones were broken because then He would not be perfect. He died before the soldier came around to break His legs to speed up death.)

See what I mean?
Shocked and amazed.

Happy hunting.

Father, Your Word thrills my soul. It is so intricate and thorough. Open our eyes to see and understand Your Truths. Help us connect the dots to see how Your plan of salvation was in place throughout the generations and miraculously fulfilled in Jesus. Thank You for loving us so completely. You are awesome, Lord.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Lion of Judah

"Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive. The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will no longer shine. The Lord's voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel."
(Joel 3:14-16, NLT)

I think this scripture has an ominous feel about it.
I believe we have a supernatural understanding as we read its heavy words.

I would like to look at why the Lord's voice would be described as a roar. Have you ever heard of the term, "Lion of Judah"? I spent some time today connecting the dots and I can't wait to share with you.

First, let's look at Genesis 49:8-12. Jacob is preparing to die and is blessing each of his sons. To Judah he says, "Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will grasp your enemies by the neck. All your relatives will bow before you. Judah, my son, is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness - who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from his descendants, until the coming of the One to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor. He ties his foal to a grapevine, the colt of his donkey to a choice vine. He washes his clothes in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk."

Oh my goodness. Where to start?
Let's start with the symbolisms:

Judah is a young lion, the offspring of a Lion.
Like a lion he crouches and lies in wait.
The scepter (belonging to a King) will not depart from him.
Nor will the ruler's staff depart until the coming of the One to whom it belongs.
Judah ties his foal (colt) to a grapevine. ("I am the vine, you are the branches," Jesus said.)
His robe is washed in blood ("He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God" ~ Revelation 19:13)

From Genesis and Joel both, a cross reference took me to Revelation. Are you ready? You might want to shout! Here it comes *grin*...

Revelation 5:4,5 reads, "Then I (John) began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, 'Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David's throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.'"

The Lion of Judah is worthy!
Jesus Christ, the Word of God, is worthy!

His voice roars out of Zion as He reclaims His children.

The Lion of Judah is of the Root of David. Think of the most majestic tree in the forest. Picture its tap root - the root that sustains it and connects it to the underground stream. Then picture the tree as the family tree of King David. Can you see it? The Lion of Judah is the tap root of the lineage of David that eventually brought forth Jesus, the Son of God.

"I and my Father are one," said Jesus.

The Lion of Judah.
Follow the roar to find your way home.

Father, I ask You to open the eyes of our heart to understand these scriptures. Please clear up anything that I blurred in my haste to keep it short. This is such an awesome image. Our minds cannot conceive of Your majesty, Your holiness. Thank You, Lord for giving us a glimpse, a taste of that glorious Day when You come to take Your children home. Lord, You are beautiful beyond description, more wonderful than words. We love You, Lord and give You praise.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

God is the Strength of My Heart

"Whom have I in heaven but You? And I have no delight or desire on earth besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm strength of my heart and my Portion forever."
(Psalm 73:25,26, Amplified Study Bible)

Child, God the Father is reaching out to you today. He is whispering your name. The world has failed you, people have disappointed and ridiculed you. You look in the mirror and don't know who that is looking back at you.

I can say these things because I have been there. I have done that.

But like David, I have learned to say, "GOD is the strength of my heart." He is my refuge, my hope. God is the constant in my life when all else fails. Oh, be sure. God is not rude nor is He going to run begging to you to break down your stubborn walls.

No. He is God.
He is not a beggar.

He will call to you. He will seek you out in your darkness and He will fully desire that you respond. And, yes, you will know that He is longing for you.

But it is your choice.

It is your misery or His peace.
You choose.
It is your pride or His love.
Again, you choose.

Psalm 61:2 reads, "From the end of the earth will I cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and fainting; Lead me to the Rock that is higher that I; Yes, a Rock that is higher than I."

David made a choice. Forevermore, throughout the Psalms, David made a choice to love God - to worship Him and give Him praise, even on the days he least felt like it.

That is a key to the Kingdom.

Worship and praise, even on the days you least feel like it.

Again, it's your choice.

Whom have I in heaven but You, Lord? There is nothing on this earth I desire besides You. You are the One on Whom I can depend. You are the lifter of my head when the world pulls me down. You are my peace when I am overwhelmed. You are my strength when my body feels like it can't go on. Thank You, Lord. Thank You for Your faithfulness to Your children. Open our eyes that we might see. Praise You, Father.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Get Up and Dance!

"Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."
(Zephaniah 3:14,17)

As you read those words, don't you want to get up and shout - maybe do the happy dance?

I KNOW!! I see ya'll grinnin'.

God is so very faithful to His children. Why do we ever doubt His love? How could we possibly place our hope in earthly things? He is the great God, worthy of our praise!

I thought this little tidbit was interesting: The word, rejoice, is used twice but it is two different Hebrew words.

The first: "He will rejoice over you with gladness." This "rejoice" is sus (soos) which means to be greatly happy. The word sason is derived from sus and means a pervasive, irresistible joy.

The Lord our God "will be greatly happy" with us. When He thinks of His children He is filled with pervasive, irresistible joy.

The second rejoice, "He will rejoice over you with singing." This "rejoice" comes from the Hebrew word for joy which is gil (geel). I love this one. It means "dancing for joy" or "leaping for joy". Isn't that wonderful?

The Lord our God "will be dancing for joy" over His people.
What a glorious thought!

Can we fathom the Father's love? Can we discern the amount of joy He has for us just because we are His children?
I don't think so.

May we never forget that God is the embodiment of love. With that love comes enormous emotion. I think that is where we limit God - that's where we encase Him in the proverbial gilded box. But remember...

He loves us with an everlasting love.
He is a jealous God.
He expresses anger over our rebellion.
He is saddened by our waywardness.

And He dances and leaps for joy, singing in celebration over His children.

The Lord our God, The Mighty One, is in our midst. Beloved, He rejoices over you. Settle into His arms and allow Him to quiet you with His love. And then?

Then...get up and dance!

Father, we give you praise and we thank You for Your love. Thank You for being in our midst, for dwelling with us. We worship You with all that we are. We love you, Lord.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wade Out A Little Bit Deeper

"After this, the man brought me back around to the east gateway. Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel appeared from the east. The sound of His coming was like the roar of rushing waters, and the whole landscape shone with His glory."
(Ezekiel 43:1,2, NLT)

"In my vision, the man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple. There I saw a stream flowing east from beneath the door of the Temple and passing to the right of the altar on its south side. The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway. Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through." (Ezekiel 47:1-5, NLT)

Ezekiel is a fascinating book. The vision of Ezekiel parallels and supports the vision of John in Revelation. Fascinating.

This vision is describing the New Jerusalem where we will dwell with the Most High God forever.
Words cannot adequately illustrate the glory and majesty of that coming Day. It is beyond our comprehension.

But I would like to take these scriptures and apply them to us right here. Right now.

In chapter 43, Ezekiel describes the voice of the Lord as sounding like the roar of rushing waters. Then, in chapter 47, Ezekiel is brought BACK to the entrance of the temple where a river is flowing right out from the threshold near the altar. It is the same river of Living Water that is described in Revelation 22:2.

Could it also be symbolic of John 7:37,38? "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'"

Rivers of Living Water.
The sound of the glory of the Lord was like the roar of rushing waters.
The water was so deep Ezekiel could swim in it.

So, here's my thought.

The river definitely represents the glory of the Lord. His Holy Spirit within us even flows out of our hearts like rivers of Living Water. Ezekiel was led out into these waters at four different levels. First, he was ankle deep. Then he was in it to his knees. Next, the water was up to his waist and finally the water was so deep he could not cross it. He had no other option but to swim.

The Living Water of the Lord was so deep Ezekiel had to swim!

Where the Lord is there is joy unspeakable.
Where the Lord is there is peace that passes all understanding.
Where the Lord is there are more blessings than we can count.

What if Ezekiel had told the angel escorting him through this vision that he had gone far enough in that river? What if he hadn't trusted the Angel of the Lord and stayed on the shore? Would he have missed the enormity of God's blessings for him?

God wants to pour out His blessings on His children. He wants us to trust Him enough to wade out into the river of Living Water where the blessings of His Presence are so abundant we can't even walk through them - we have to swim!!

But it requires obedience.
It requires trust.
A lot of trust.

Will you dare to trust Him today? Go ahead. Stick your big toe in and get started. The water is just right.

Father, Why is total trust so difficult? Why? We can be so stubborn. Surely we trust You, yet we hang on to things just a little bit because, apparently, we think we can do a better job. Forgive us Lord. Increase our trust and our faith as we walk with You. You are a good God, full of mercy and grace. It is comforting to know that when we step out into the deep waters, You are with us. Yes, You are in the midst of the waters. Open our ears to hear Your voice calling us to wade out a little bit deeper. Thank You, Father.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Peace of God's Reign

"Then justice will dwell in the wilderness. And righteousness remain in the fruitful field. The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, though hail comes down on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation. Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, who send out freely the feet of the ox and donkey."
(Isaiah 32:16-20)

"The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever."

The subtitle of this section of Scripture is, "The Peace of God's Reign."


Can you just imagine? Let those words soak in and refresh your spirit. Ask the Lord to open the eyes of your understanding to grasp the reality of that great and coming Day...the peace of God's reign.

Feast on the words from Isaiah 11:6-9: "In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm. Nothing will hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord" (the New Living Translation).

Oh, what a glorious Day that will be. "The earth will be filled with people who know the Lord."

As we stand in the Lord's Presence, His righteousness will be as the noon day sun. Our robes of righteousness will gleam and reflect the glory of the Lord. It is HIS righteousness that produces peace. It is HIS righteousness that results in quietness and assurance forever.

In that moment we will know what it is to "be still and know that He is God."

And the secure dwelling where God's people will find a peaceful habitation? That would be THE TABERNACLE!
The Hebrew word for dwellings is mishchan (meesh-kahn) which means tabernacle. Uh-huh! Yes, ma'am! We will be dwelling in the Tabernacle of the Lord forever.

I LOVE how the Word of the Lord becomes clear when we take the time to ask Him, don't you?

"And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:3)

Ahhhh....peace. Wonderful peace.

Father, We anticipate the Day of Your coming. I pray that we would be alert, that You would find us praying for Your hurting world when You sound the trumpet. Make this a reality in Your people. We want You to use us as vessels of honor for Your glory in the coming days. Lead us, Lord. Guide us into all righteousness. Thank You for the blood of the Lamb that washes us white as snow. May we be a blessing to You, Father. We love You and we give You praise.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Isaiah's Prayer for Jerusalem

"Because I love Zion I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the Lord's own mouth. The Lord will hold you in His hand for all to see - a splendid crown in the hand of God. Never again will you be called 'The Forsaken City' or the 'Desolate Land.' Your new name will be 'The City of God's Delight' and 'The Bride of God,' for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as His bride. Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

"O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Give the Lord no rest until He completes His work, until He makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.

"The Lord has sworn to Jerusalem by His own strength: 'I will never again hand you over to your enemies. Never again will foreign warriors come and take away your grain and new wine. You raised the grain, and you will eat it, praising the Lord. Within the courtyards of the Temple, you yourselves will drink the wine you have pressed.'

"Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for My people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see. The Lord has sent this message to every land: 'Tell the people of Israel, "Look, your Savior is coming. See, He brings His reward with Him as He comes."' They will be called 'The Holy People' and "The People Redeemed by the Lord.' And Jerusalem will be known as 'The Desirable place' and 'The City No Longer Forsaken.'"
(Isaiah 62, The New Living Translation)

This is the heart of God.
He wants us to pray for His people and for the peace of Jerusalem.

May we heed His voice today.

Father, I have never known such an urgency to pray for Jerusalem as I have of late. Place this burden on Your people. Open all of our eyes to understand why this is so important. Open the eyes of our understanding to know that this is the cry of Your heart. Lord, together we DO pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We pray that You will surround Your Holy city with legions of warring angels to protect her. Encourage Your people with Your love. Anoint her leaders with wisdom and courage. Thank You, Father.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

And the Beat Goes On

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going."
(Hebrews 11:8)

The journey of faith.

Have you ever stopped to think of the people of faith who have gone on before you? It really is quite amazing. I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home. Even my grandparents lives testified of their faithfulness and love of God. Church was central to my upbringing.

I really didn't know any difference.
This was a normal life to me.

But consider that for over 2000 years people have traveled their own distinct journey of faith. Sometimes we intersect paths, sometimes we run parallel alongside each other. But always, Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ make the journey to the heights with the Great Shepherd, one step at a time.

I made an observation this morning that touched my soul. I read an excerpt on obedience in Corrie ten Boom's book, Each New Day: "It is Jesus who restores any broken connection between God and us. I remember when my connection was broken by disobedience. I said, 'Lord, I will go everywhere You send me, but never send me to Germany.' (Corrie was a Holocaust survivor). When I did not receive any guidance, I asked if there was disobedience in my life. The Lord said, 'Germany.' The very moment I decided to obey, my connection was restored! And how God blessed my time in that country!" Corrie went on to pray, "Lord, I do not ask to see the distant scene. One step is enough for me."

Corrie's words were compelling in themselves, but there was more to this God-moment. My copy of Each New Day was purchased several years ago at a thrift store. It is copyrighted 1977 and signed by the previous owner - Beatrice Spur. This little book is falling apart. It has been loved by two women of faith who have worn its pages ragged. As I read Corrie's words this morning, I realized that Beatrice had underlined several words in this passage. The bold lines underscored Beatrice's battle(?) or desires(?) with the color of fresh mowed grass. The velvety green marks jumped off the page in a way that only the Holy Spirit could achieve. I felt Beatrice's heart, the desire to please her Lord, the cost of her discipleship.

And I felt an alliance with her - a bond of faith.

My heart joined with a woman whom I have never met, yet I recognized Jesus in her.
One day I will meet Beatrice on the streets of glory as we shout "Hallelujah to the Lord Most High! Hosanna to the King!"

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith." (Hebrews 12:1,2, The New Living Translation)

Father, Like Corrie said and Beatrice underlined, one step at a time. You show us one step at a time and lead us forward. Thank You for the faithful ones who have gone before us. It really is quite amazing Lord - this walk of faith. Thank You for loving us and showing us Your Truth. Thank You for the Body of Christ - our sisters and brothers who have gone before us and those that surround and undergird us today. We give you praise and honor, Lord. Glory to the Lord Most High!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Poured Out Before Him

"Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.

O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge."
(Psalm 62:5-8, The New Living Translation)

Pour out your heart to God.

King David encouraged the people of God in this often.
Perhaps this is one reason God called David a man after His own heart.

To pour out our hearts before Him indicates great trust.
It is the expression of an intimate relationship. "David viewed his heart as a pitcher, and he poured everything in it on his God, whether it was joy or sadness, bitterness or fear. David not only poured out his heart as a personal practice; he urged others to do the same" (Beth Moore).

The Hebrew word for 'pour out' is shapak (shaw-fak'). One of its meanings, besides the obvious, is to intensively sprawl out.

Intensively SPRAWL out.
Whoa! Now that's a picture.
A very accurate picture.

It is almost difficult to place the image of sprawling with the image of a holy, majestic God, isn't it? Maybe that is because sometimes in our ugliness we prefer to keep Him confined to the heavenlies. It is easier to negate the intimacy that the blood of Jesus affords when life becomes too difficult. The walls go up. The arms get crossed to guard the heart and that ol' stiff neck shows its ugly self. Right? Sometimes we prefer to wallow in our pain rather than pour it out as an offering before the Lord.

But God WANTS us to pour out our hearts to Him. He delights in the measure of trust this requires.
I find it interesting that before David made this statement about bearing our souls - pouring out our heart - he proclaimed the goodness of God. David declared Who God was in the midst of his enemies. He knew the One in whom he had believed.

"My hope is in Him."
"He alone is my rock and my salvation."
"He is my fortress."
"God is the reason I have victory and honor."
"He is my refuge. No enemy can reach me.

Then David encouraged us to INTENSIVELY sprawl out before our Lord, bearing all, pouring out the pitcher of our hearts until the tantrum relinquishes itself to the sweet sounds of prayerful whispers.

Then you can rest like a newborn child in the arms of your Heavenly Father.

Father God, Thank You so much for the example David gives us. We desire an honest, intimate relationship with You like him. Thank You for the blood of Jesus that allows us to approach You. Thank You for the robe of righteousness that clothes our nakedness before You. You are an awesome God. We love you.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Blow Your Horn and Break That Jar!

"The armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east had settled in the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels were like grains of sand on the seashore - too many to count! Gideon crept up just as a man was telling his companion about a dream. The man said, 'I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!'

"His companion answered, 'Your dream can mean only one thing - God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!'

"When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the Lord. Then he returned to the Israelite camp and shouted, 'Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!' He divided the 300 men into three groups and gave each man a ram's horn and a clay jar with a torch in it.

"Then he said to them, 'Keep your eyes on me. When I come to the edge of the camp, do just as I do. As soon as I and those with me blow the rams' horns, blow your horns, too, all around the entire camp, and shout, "For the Lord and for Gideon!"'

"It was just after midnight, after the changing of the guard, when Gideon and the 100 men with him reached the edge of the Midianite camp. Suddenly, they blew the rams' horns and broke their clay jars. Then all three groups blew their horns and broke their jars. They held the blazing torches in their left hands and the horns in their right hands, and they all shouted, 'A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!'

"Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape."
(Judges 7:12-21, The New Living Translation)

"Then all three groups blew their horns and broke their jars. They held the blazing torches in their left hands and the horns in their right hands, and they all shouted, 'A sword for the Lord..."

I almost jumped out of my computer chair when I saw the image God gave me for this scripture. But, first, a quick backstory.

Gideon and his army were about to be embroiled in battle with their enemies, the Midianites.
Did I mention that the Midianites were as swarms of locusts and their camels like sand on the seashore?!

God, like only God could do, didn't want Gideon to fight with thousands and thousands of Israelites. "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me'" (Judges 7:2).

God wanted to show His power and to remind His people Who was God.

So the Israelite army was whittled down to 300 men against the Midianites who appeared as swarms of locusts because of their numbers. Ever felt that way? Ever felt like your back was up against a wall and there were no options? You knew you were goin' down! I knew you could relate.

Long story short, Gideon eavesdropped on the Midianite camp and heard an interpretation of a dream discussed between two Midianites that meant Israel was going to win the battle.

Gideon's reaction was to bow and worship God right then and there. (That's a lesson for another day.) Then he returned to his men and told them, "Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!"

Are you ready?

God told them to carry ram horns and jars of clay with torches in them. When the signal was given they were to sound the horns and shatter the jars to expose the light.

Did you realize that we are like jars of clay?
2 Corinthians 4:7 reads, "We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves."

Okay. We are like jars of clay with Light and power inside.
The Israelites carried jars of clay with torches inside to fight their battle.

The Greek word for power is dunamis - dynamite! Explosive power!

That is the image God gave me! The Israelites shattered their clay vessels exposing the torches. They blew the ram's horn - the shofar - and confused the enemy! I saw the power of the Holy Spirit exploding within our clay vessels, demonstrating His power and His light to the darkness around us. His power - dunamis - bursts out of its human vessel. He shatters the human effort that is no match for the enemy and displays His power and His glory and His brilliant Light to defeat the enemy that pursues His child.

Can you see it? Can you picture the power of the Holy Spirit coming on the scene at our time of need?

What are you facing today? Identify your enemy. Is it job loss? Depression? Illness? Is your marriage in trouble? The POWER - the dunamis - of the Holy Spirit dwells in you and will give you victory.

Worship Him today.
He will fight your battles for you.

Father, Thank You so much for this lesson! Open our eyes to know and understand the power that lies within us. It is futile for us to rely on our own strength when facing our enemies...the power of Almighty God is within us! Thank You Father. Help us walk in this knowledge. Help us walk in victory and not defeat, understanding who we are and Who You are within us. Bless You, Father!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Even So...

"ALL the commandments which I command you this day you shall be watchful to do, that you may live and multiply and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers. And you shall earnestly remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your mind & heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your feet swell these forty years."
(Deuteronomy 8:1,2,4)

"Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your feet swell these forty years."

This statement refers to a miracle of miracles that God provided for His children as they wandered through the wilderness for forty years.

Nehemiah 9:21 says it this way, "Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell."

The Hebrew word for sustain is chul (kool) and means "to maintain, nourish, provide food, bear, hold up, protect, support, defend, supply the means necessary for living." Indeed, El Shaddai - Almighty God - SUSTAINED His children all those years. No question about it.

But, I would like to consider this verse from a spiritual perspective. Now, mind you, these are just my thoughts, okay? I would never want to mislead anyone nor would I want to add anything to the Word of God! But it is important that we realize our spiritual journey parallels the physical journey of the Israelites - all the way from Egypt (our life before Jesus set us free) to Canaan (when we pass over to glory).

Here we go...

When I saw the word garments I immediately thought of the garment of salvation and the robe of righteousness, both of which God provided to covered our sins, our nakedness, our vulnerabilities. Isaiah 61:10 reads, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God. For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness." Isaiah 61:3 reads, "To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness..." (Isaiah 61 is a Messianic chapter foretelling the ministry of Jesus.)


As we journey on our pilgrimage, the Lord is leading us, providing for us, protecting and loving us. Though the road gets tough sometimes, though we find ourselves muddied with blood, sweat and tears - EVEN SO - our salvation is for always, our righteousness is as bright as the morning star and praise carries us to the throne of Almighty God.


Incorruptible. Forever and ever.

What a mighty God we serve!

Father, You think of everything! You are teaching us so much and we are so very appreciative of the insight You give us. Thank You for opening the eyes of our understanding. We want our faith to explode with delight and knowledge! We want our spiritual roots to grow deep in understanding so that more and more we understand who we are to You. This is exciting stuff, Lord. Thank You so much!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Oh, If Only...

"For it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you energizing and creating in you the power and desire, both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight."
(Philippians 2:13, The Amplified Study Bible)

For it is GOD Who is at work in you...

"God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey Him" (Contemporary English Version).

For it is GOD Who is at work in you...

"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him" (The New Living Translation).

For it is GOD Who is at work in you...

Isn't that good news? All the Lord requires is that we be willing vessels - vessels to be poured out, emptied of self and refilled with the Spirit of God. He has written His Word upon our hearts. He is transforming us through the renewal of our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit. HE is doing the work!

The Spirit of God - the Creator of the Universe - lives within us!
The same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us!

Why can't we take hold of this incredible truth? Why can't we realize the grace bestowed upon us? I KNOW!! We can grasp just a tiny morsel of God's goodness, can't we? But, oh that we could open our eyes to see the magnitude of His power and grace. If only we could awaken our hearts to know Him and love Him and adore Him with all that we are.

Oh, if only...

God, our most loving Father, has a purpose and plan for each of us. Every event, every tear, every belly-busting laugh - ALL of it fits into His plan for us.

For it is God Who is at work in us giving us the desire and power to do what pleases Him.

SELAH. Pause and calmly think about it.

Father, we love You so much. We desire more of You. We desire to walk out Your plans for our lives, to not be a hindrance to Your work. Fill us up, Lord. Fill us with Your grace and mercy. We are Your willing vessels and we desire to please You in all we do.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Turning Northward

"Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness of the Way of the Red Sea, as the Lord spoke to me (Moses) and we circled Mount Seir for many days. And the Lord spoke to me, saying: 'You have circled this mountain long enough; turn northward."
(Deuteronomy 2:1-3)

"You have circled this mountain long enough; turn northward."

Did I just hear a chorus of amens?
I thought so!

The subtitle for Deuteronomy 2 reads, "Remembering Israel's Wanderings". If you recall, the Israelites took forty years to make a trip that some scholars estimate should have taken a few weeks.

That's a lot of wandering.

The problem was that God required them to keep circling Mount Seir because they wouldn't learn their lessons - lessons like "Thou shalt have no other gods before me!" Or lessons like, "I AM the Sovereign Lord, not you!" He could not gift them with the Promised Land until they understood Who the Giver was.

But now the time had come to march right into Canaan, after taking out a few more enemies, of course. God told them to turn northward.


I realize that northward is just a directional term, but I thought about it most of the day. I thought about the illustrations of compasses on maps that have an arrow pointing up to represent north. The arrows point up. Hmmm...

"I will lift UP my eyes to the hills - from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth"
(Psalm 121:1).

Eyes fixed on Jesus.

Have you been circling a mountain over and over? I surely have, in fact I can think of more than one. Perhaps my biggest mountain is named insecurity. I am afraid to fail and I am afraid to succeed. Crazy, I know, but its the truth. I seem to be more comfortable circling the mountain - at least I am familiar with the landscape - than stepping off the beaten path and moving forward - north!

But God tells me it is time to turn northward, I've been circling the mountain long enough. It's a little scary, but I know the Lord is with me.

I know He is with You, too. He didn't say to go north by ourselves. In fact, He promised He would never leave us, nor forsake us. NEVER. Not even when we whine and complain and resist forward movement. He is a faithful God, you know.

So, sweet friends, onward and upward we go.

"You have circled this mountain long enough," says the Lord.

Father, I am so thankful that You know and understand this fearful heart. I pray that Your perfect love would cast away all fear and insecurity within me, that You would prevent me from resisting forward movement. I am so thankful that You are with Your children. Indeed! You are WITHIN Your children through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thank You, Lord. Make that a reality in our lives. We love You and give You praise!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Jesus, I Belong to You

"I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just one grain; it never becomes more but lives by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest. Anyone who loves his life loses it, but anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. Whoever has no love for, no concern for, no regard for his life here on earth, but despises it, preserves his life forever and ever. If anyone serves Me, he must continue to follow Me, to cleave steadfastly to Me, to conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying and wherever I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."
(John 12:24-26. The Amplified Study Bible)

This is Jesus speaking to His disciples.
This is Jesus speaking to us.

I have often shied away from this scripture. Oh, to be sure, I desire for Jesus to be Lord of my life, not just my Savior. But, there was something about the wording in these verses that seemed harsh to me. I love my life and I love Jesus in my life. I acknowledge that Elohim is the giver of my life. So how could loving my life be a bad thing? And what about the hate part? I have to HATE my life in order to live in eternity with My Savior? That's a little hard to swallow.

And then today the words, "in this world" jumped off the page at me. Sure, I had read them before, but I had never SEEN them before.

My solution was to just skim over the words and not look at them carefully.
Maybe my spirit knew these verses lead to self-reflection...

I read a quote this morning by E. Stanley Jones that went through me like a sword. He said, "If you make a compromise with surrender, you can remain interested in the abundant life, all the riches of freedom, love, and peace, but it is the same as looking at a display in a shop window. You look through the window but do not go in and buy. You will not pay the price - surrender." (Each New Day, Corrie ten Boom)

I know. That'll get your attention, won't it?

But, let's put this into the context of today's scripture. I want to KNOW my Lord. You may think I'm crazy, but I want Him to call me friend, like He did Abraham. Abraham was completed surrendered to the authority of Almighty God and God called him friend.

I want to be like that - not just in words, but in actuality.
God is teaching me. I am learning.
But, it ain't easy!

Jesus doesn't have a thing against life. After all He came to bring life - life abundantly! But our life is no longer our own - or at least it's not supposed to be. We have been redeemed, bought with a price. When we understand this vital link in our salvation, we understand His Lordship - not just Savior, not just a ticket to heaven - LORDSHIP!!

If you noticed, Jesus made this statement after using a metaphor of the grain of wheat dying and producing more wheat.

The Message says it this way, "Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over."

The Lord opened the eyes of my heart to understand the beauty of this statement. I saw the grain of wheat planted by the Master Gardner. It was tenderly cared for, watered, weeds removed (*grin*), watched over with anticipation. The hull (or shell) responded to the Gardner's nurturing. The life inside that hull was BURSTING to come forth. But first, the hull had to break. It died to itself so that the life within could escape and fulfill its purpose.

But first, the grain of wheat had to surrender itself to the Gardner's hand.

I pray the words of this song will bless you.

With All I AM
by Hillsong

Into Your hand I commit again with all I am, for You, Lord.
You hold my world in the palm of Your hand and I am Yours forever.

Jesus, I believe in You.
Jesus, I belong to You.
You're the reason that I live,
You're the reason that I sing
With all I am.

I'll walk with You wherever You go, through tears and joy I'll trust in You.
I will live in all of Your ways, Your promises forever.

Jesus, I believe in You.
Jesus, I belong to You.
You're the reason that I live,
You're the reason that I sing
With all I am.

I will worship.
I will worship You.

Father, How do I say thank You for what You are doing in my life? It is so hard to die to self, but You are showing me the beauty of a deeper walk with You. Take my life, Lord. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Be glorified in me, Lord. I love you.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Are You Smiling?

"Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance. In Your Name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted. For You are the glory of their strength, and in Your favor our horn (strength) is exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord, and our king to the Holy One of Israel."
(Psalm 89:15-18)

Happy, fortunate, to be envied - BLESSED - are the people who know the joyful sound of worship! What a privilege it is to worship our King!

Psalm 89:15 states that the people who recognize the joyful sound of worship are happy. They are familiar with it. This is actually referring to the Judaic celebrations during the Holy days and the different feasts. The purpose of each of these was to REMEMBER the goodness of the Lord, His faithfulness, His holiness. Trumpets sounded. Singing and dancing erupted - great joy was expressed because of gratitude and reverence.

Blessed are those who KNOW the joyful sound!

Verse 17 reads, "For You are the glory of their strength, and in Your favor our horn is exalted."

Look at the following translations of this verse. I believe it will put a smile on your face.

"For You are the glory of their strength (their proud adornment) and by Your favor our horn is exalted and we walk with uplifted faces" (The Amplified Study Bible)

"Your vibrant beauty has gotten inside us - you've been so good to us! We're walking on air!" ( The Message)

Are you smiling?
God HAS been so good to us! Sometimes it feels just like we are walking on air with uplifted faces.

The joy of the Lord has no comparison.
The sound of worship ushering in His Presence is beyond description.
He adorns us with the Light of His radiance beaming from uplifted faces.

Can you see it? Close your eyes and imagine the glory of the Lord adorning you with righteousness, radiating light into the darkness of a hurting world.

Brilliant, joyous light.
Oh friends, how the world needs to see the adornment of Christ on us.

Oh Father, How I love Your Word! Just reading these verses puts joy in my heart. My cup overflows with love for You; I am filled with appreciation for all You have done for me. Set us free to worship You, Lord, with total abandon. Indeed, Your vibrant beauty has gotten inside us. We give You praise!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Unveiled Reality of God

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
(John 1:14)

I read something about this verse today that thrilled me! Don't you love it when the Lord shows you something new? Woo-Hoo!

We know that the Word is Jesus.
John 1:1 tells us, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." God created the world through His spoken Word. Now He has sent redemption to His creation through His living Word, Jesus Christ.

The Word made flesh.

Now the exciting part.

We are told that Jesus is "full of grace and truth." The Greek word for 'truth' is aletheia (al-ah-thay-ah) which means "unveiled reality."


Jesus is the unveiled reality of God's glory!

Let's rest on this for a minute. Who can behold the glory of the Lord? It far exceeds our wildest imaginations. Just think...His voice is in the thunder. He holds the seas in the cup of His hands. He rides on the wings of the wind. His glory is such that we cannot look upon Him with our earthly bodies.

And yet.
And yet He craved our fellowship so much that He sent Jesus to earth so that we could be in His Presence and learn of His love and mercy and salvation. He sent Jesus so that we, His children, could put on the robe of righteousness and behold Him for all of eternity. THAT'S how much He loves you and me.

Let's go a little deeper.

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."
A literal translation of 'dwelt' means 'tabernacled'. Think of the tabernacle in the wilderness. This is the holy place where God dwelt among the people. The ark with His mercy seat was in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle - the innermost place - and was behind a VEIL. This was the same veil that we read about in the depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus. At the moment Jesus died the veil in the temple was torn in two. The very separation between God and us was done away with. The atonement for our sins was complete through His blood.

The veil is very important.
During the Old Testament only the High Priest was allowed to venture behind it. He had a rope tied to his ankle in case he died while in the Lord's Presence. The rope enabled another priest to pull him out.

THAT is how holy God is!
THAT is how magnificent His glory is!
And NOW! Now, through Jesus, the unveiled reality of God, we can know Him!

Jesus. Emmanuel. God with us unveiling His reality, bringing us His glory!

Father, This is such an awesome revelation! And it makes so much sense. Thank you for showing us this truth about Jesus. He brought Your magnificent glory to earth - to us! He revealed Who You are to us and He joined us to You through His suffering and pain. He laid us in Your everlasting arms because of His love. How do we thank You Father? We offer You praise and adoration.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

When Your Life Hits A Detour

"Then Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison."
(Genesis 39:20,21)

Although Joseph had been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, God had lifted him up, giving him positions of authority in Egypt.
"The Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and he gave him favor..." Joseph was known for his integrity AND he was known for worshiping the God of Israel. The wife of Joseph's master tried unsuccessfully to seduce him. Feeling rejection, she falsely accused Joseph and had him thrown into prison.

I said all of that to say this: Joseph's life took a detour because of events that occurred beyond his control. But could this detour have been God-ordained? Absolutely!

My grandfather's favorite verse was Proverbs 3:5,6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." I have several letters from Granddaddy, all of which end in this verse.

So, I ask a question that I have asked before.
Do we believe God, or not?
Do we trust God, or not?

If we believe and trust our Lord, then we must believe that He has promised to direct ALL our paths
. Right? Then, let's think about this...

Joseph had already been sold into slavery and now he is in prison. But...wait a minute. Didn't Joseph have a dream before his brothers got rid of him?

Genesis 37:6-8 tells us, "So Joseph said to his brothers, 'Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.' And his brothers said to him, 'Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?' So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words."

This didn't go over too well. In fact, his father rebuked him and his brothers envied him, ultimately selling Joseph into slavery.


And now Joseph is in prison for something he didn't do. But is this part of God's plan? Yes.


While in prison Pharaoh's chief butler and baker are thrown in there too. Long story short, this is a divine appointment. They each have dreams that Joseph interprets for them. Once they are released, the interpretations come to pass and eventually Pharaoh learns of Joseph's ability to interpret dreams. This proves to be invaluable to Pharaoh because of a series of disturbing dreams he is having. He calls Joseph to him to interpret, recognizes a good thing and places Joseph over all the land of Egypt.

Enter seven years of plenty.
Enter seven years of famine.
All of which Joseph has foreseen and planned for.

"When Jacob (Joseph's father) saw that there was grain in Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, 'Why do you look at one another? Indeed I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; Go down to that place and buy for us there, that we may live and not die.'"
(Genesis 42:1,2) So Joseph's ten brothers traveled to Egypt where Joseph is now governor over all the land. "And Joseph's brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth."(verse 6)

Wait a minute. Isn't that what Joseph's dream said all those years before?

What appeared to be detours in Joseph's life were actually ordered by a Sovereign God!
The Word tells us that "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)

Has God given you a dream? Do you have a desire in your heart that you believe is God's will for your life?

God calls us to trust Him, acknowledge His Presence in all of our ways and then learn not to freak out when a detour happens! (That would be me.) Either God is Sovereign or He is not. Either He is in charge of our lives, or He is not.

Isn't that good news?
Now if we can just get this trust factor down pat.

Father, You are so wonderful! This principle is so simple - so rooted in Your love and mercy. Why do we complicate it so? YOU are in charge of our lives when we submit to Your Lordship, Your authority. NOTHING will come our way without You knowing about it. Open our eyes to see Your hand in all things concerning us. Help us to embrace the detours as part of Your plan, bringing all the pieces together. And help us to trust completely. Forgive us when we take our eyes off of You and wallow in self-pity and doubt when our life goes in a different direction than planned. You promise to work everything together for our good to those of us who are submitted to Your authority and who love You. Help us embrace this truth and walk in it daily. Thank You, Lord.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Good Portion

"But the Lord replied to her by saying, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the good portion (that which is to her advantage), which shall not be taken away from her."
(Luke 10:41,42, The Amplified Study Bible)

Mary has chosen the good portion.


When I read the word, portion, that The Amplified Bible uses in this verse, I suddenly gained further insight into this familiar Bible passage. Let me say this, The Amplified Bible chose the word portion because the original text, written in Greek, uses the word, meris (mer-ece') which means "a portion, share of, participation in or partaker of". See what I mean? The original text gives us understanding.

Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus whereas Martha busied herself with serving her Lord. And yes, Mary blessed Jesus by doing so. But He was actually saying something more than, "Good job, Mary. You made the right choice."

In the Old Testament, the priests were given portions of the animal and grain sacrifices. These portions sustained them. This was possible because the portions had been made holy and the priests had been consecrated, otherwise, the priests could not have received any part of the sacrifice.

Who was the perfect sacrifice offered for the atonement of our sins? Yes, JESUS!
Who are the priests that have been consecrated to serve Jesus? Yes, us! The Body of Christ! (Revelation 1:6)

Jesus was Mary's portion - the life-sustaining portion of the perfect sacrifice. By dropping all the busyness and sitting at her Master's feet to listen to Him and learn from Him and fall in love with Him - by doing that she became a partaker (meris) in the covenant of God. Her portion that could "never be taken away from her" was her faith, her salvation, her relationship with Jesus.

And the life that Mary's portion brings? No amount of busyness, accolades or achievements could ever match.

Psalm 73:26 reads, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm strength of my heart and my PORTION forever."

The Lord is our portion!
But, like Mary, we must choose.

Father, I pray that you will make this message clear to my readers, that you will use my words to give them understanding and new insight into a very familiar story. Open our eyes to see what it means to choose you as our portion. We are saying, "Yes!" to Your joy, Your peace, Your protection and provision. We are saying, "Yes!" to Your Lordship and Your purposes. We choose to be still and rest in Your arms listening to Your gentle whispers of love. We love You, Lord.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

You Alone Are the One We Worship

"O Lord our God, masters besides You have had dominion over us; But by You only we make mention of Your Name."
(Isaiah 26:11)

Oh. My. Goodness. Are you finding that the Lord is taking you deeper and deeper in your walk with Him? I definitely am.

And that's a good thing.
Not necessarily an easy thing.
But a good thing. Maybe even a glorious thing.

The context of this verse is within the realm of captivity. The Israelites had been oppressed and controlled by the kings of Babylon for a very long time. Isaiah is praying to Jehovah Elohim, the self-existent, eternal Lord and Supreme God - the Creator of the Universe.

That is a mouthful, but consider its meaning.
Isaiah is recognizing the Lord's sovereignty, authority and Lordship over His people.

Isaiah acknowledges that the Israelites have had many masters over them, but none can compare to THE Master. He goes on to say, "But by You only we make mention of your Name." 'To make mention of Your Name' is zakar (zaw-kar') in Hebrew and means to be mindful, to remember, commemorate, to celebrate the very essence of Who God is.

I love how The New Living Translation reads, "O Lord our God, others have ruled us, but You alone are the One we worship."

Isn't that beautiful?
And its very clear in its meaning.

As the Lord takes us deeper in our faith He begins to reveal to us things that we allow to take precedence over Him.
Remember, the Scripture tells us that He is a Jealous God (Exodus 20:5). Not only does He desire that we recognize His Lordship, He wants us to be set free from the things that hold us captive - those things that separate us from a Holy God! I personally believe that His jealousy is rooted in His incredible love for us, His desire to be with us in a close relationship. His holiness dictates that we strive towards righteousness - not self-righteousness, but HIS righteousness so that we can walk hand and hand with Him, so that we can bask in the Glory of His Presence.

In Beth Moore's book, Praying God's Word Day by Day, she offers a beautiful prayer concerning these issues. I would like to close this message with her prayer.

"O Lord our God, other lords besides You have ruled over me, but Your name alone is the one I want to honor. Please help me understand that these sins and addictions have been terrible and destructive rulers in my life. Help me cease to honor them. Help me see them like a bed too short to stretch out on and a blanket too narrow to wrap around me. Help me accept the truth that the objects of my sinful desires are not enough! Father, Your Word tells me that anyone who trusts in You will never be put to shame. How I celebrate that the time has come to put all shame behind me!"

Amen? Amen.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ever Felt Like A Tumbleweed?

"This is what the Lord says: 'Cursed (miserable) are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.

"'But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.'"
(Jeremiah 17:5-8, The New Living Translation)

Just when I think I have placed all of my hope in the Lord, a trial or a huge disappointment comes along and WHAM! I realize that maybe my hoping in Him needs a little boost. Can I get a witness out there?

Why, oh WHY, is it so difficult to completely trust Someone that I love so much? I guess it's our human nature. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The human heart is deceitful above all things." Ain't that the truth?

I like how The Message translates verse 6, "He's like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows."

That is exactly how it feels when I realize that I have placed my hope and trust in someone or something other than Christ alone. I feel just like a tumbleweed blowing around in the hot, arid desert - tossed to and fro, no direction - just flung about on the whim of a breeze. And yes, it is a miserable feeling - cursed!

I have a lot of dreams for my writing and speaking ministry. I work hard at it, bathe it in prayer and listen for the Lord's direction.
A few days ago I found out that I was not one of the recipients for a scholarship to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference to be held at Ridgecrest in Black Mountain, NC in May. Talk about disappointment. In this day and age of publishing, attending writers' conferences is vital to stepping up your career. It is a really big deal - a really, big EXPENSIVE deal! I just knew I was going to get a scholarship - or at least I dreamed of the possibility.

Talk about disappointment. I indulged myself in a mega self-doubting, wallowing pity-party for most of that morning! My precious husband, David, prayed for me and spoke encouragement over me and then I rested in the arms of my Jesus.

Wanna know what He said?

Remember when Jesus said to Peter, "Peter, do you love Me?"
Well, He said to me, "Nan, do you trust Me?"
"Yes, Lord. I trust You."
"Then give Me your future."

He said to me again, "Nan, do you trust Me?"
"Yes, Lord, I trust You"
"Then give Me your gifts of writing and speaking."

And a third time He said, "Nan, will you place your hope in Me and in Me alone?"
"Yes, Lord. That is the desire of my heart."
"Then take My hand, stop trying to get ahead of Me and know that I am directing your steps."

COMPLETE hope and trust is a hard lesson, isn't it? Our spirits are very willing, but our flesh is oh so weak. But I am learning that hope and trust are a lot like faith - it is a learning process, a "growing up" in spiritual maturity. I know I have come a long way in this department, but I also know I have a long way to go. It is my prayer that you, my sweet readers, will grow in leaps and bounds in learning to place your hope in the One True God - not just SOME hope, but ALL of your hope - completely trusting in, relying upon, depending upon and leaning on those everlasting arms.

For blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.

Father, Thank You for loving me in spite of me. And thank You for Your peace in my moment of despair. Lord, teach each of us how to totally abandon ourselves in Your love. You are our all-in-all. We know Your power. We know Your love. Help us to stretch deep roots into Your streams of Living Water where complete hope and trust abide. You are wonderful, Lord. We praise Your Holy Name!