Thursday, September 30, 2010

Powerful, Profound Love

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

This is such a familiar verse.
This is such a powerful, profound verse!

I love, love, LOVE the way my Spirit Filled Life Bible breaks this Scripture down. I want to share it with you because I believe it offers us food for thought.

"Love suffers long, having patience with imperfect people. Love is kind, active in doing good. Love does not envy; since it is nonpossessive and noncompetitive, it actually wants other people to get ahead. Hence it does not parade itself. Love has a self-effacing quality; it is not ostentatious (indulging in vain and pretentious display). Love is not puffed up, treating others arrogantly; it does not behave rudely, but displays good manners and courtesy. Love does not seek its own, insisting on its own rights and demanding precedence; rather, it is unselfish. Love is not provoked; it is not irritable or touchy, rough or hostile, but is graceful under pressure. Love thinks no evil; it does not keep an account of wrongs done to it; instead, it erases resentments. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, finding satisfaction in the shortcomings of others and spreading an evil report; rather, it rejoices in the truth, aggressively advertising the good. Love bears all things, defending and holding other people up. Love believes the best about others, credits them with good intentions, and is not suspicious. Love hopes all things, never giving up on people, but affirming their future. Love endures all things, persevering and remaining loyal to the end. Love never fails."

Didn't you just love that?! Such a blessing...

I would like for you to do something.
I would like for you to read it again and substitute your name every time you read the word "love".
I promise it will give you food for thought.

Let's pray for one another and commit to overflowing with God's love into a hurting world.

The world will know we are Christians by our love.

Father, this is SO beautiful! Thank You for making it so clear to us how we are to love others. I guess it's safe to say that You know how hard it is for us to love others the way You do. Only Christ in us can make that possible. Lord, we surrender our hearts to You. Empty them and refill them with Your love. Teach us to overflow with Your love. Open our eyes to see others the way You do. Thank You, Father.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Said the Sparrow to the Robin

"Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.'
(Matthew 6:31,32)

"For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things."

Doesn't this statement make your faith personal? Guess Who is saying these words? Yes, it is Jesus. He spoke these words during His Sermon on the Mount.

I confess, worry - in the form of anxiety - is big in my life. But, I am getting better. I truly enjoy the majesty of God - His splendor, His glory, His incredible power.

But I REALLY love my Daddy God, Abba Father.

I remember as a young child crawling into my Daddy's lap, feeling his warmth, hearing his heartbeat...At that moment everything in my world was OK. Nothing had actually changed, yet I was safe and secure. My Daddy would take care of everything.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to take hold of this Truth about Him. We are His children, He is our God - our Daddy God. But we don't just open our mouths like a baby bird and become instantly satisfied with this Truth.

No. Understanding comes through RELATIONSHIP. It comes through, metaphorically, crawling into His lap and getting to know Him - not just about Him, but falling in love with Him.

It means seeking the Lord first, making Him a priority, a desire of your heart.

Said the Robin to the Sparrow:
"I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so."

Said the Sparrow to the Robin:
"Friend, I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me."
(Elizabeth Cheney)

Your heavenly Father KNOWS what you have need of. He can't wait for you to "crawl up into His lap" and listen to His whispers of love.

His heart beats for you, His Child.

Thank You, Father! Thank You for being a personal God, our Daddy God. I find such comfort in that. You are so approachable, so kind and so good. I love you, Lord.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Listening For His Gentle Whisper

"And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
(Galatians 5:24,25)

At our moment of salvation we have made a DECISION to not only FOLLOW Jesus, but to begin our TRANSFORMATION in becoming "Christlike" - Christian, Disciple. Sometimes it feels like this transformation takes forever with a lot of bumps and bruises along the way. But...When we accept Jesus as our Savior, forgiveness of sins takes place, a decision of repentance - turning away from sin - takes place and we become a new creature, washed in the blood of Jesus and sealed IN the Holy Spirit.

We begin to LIVE in the Spirit.

Now that we have made the decision to "live in the Spirit" - now comes the hard part: We must also decide to WALK in the Spirit."

It's the difference between Jesus being our Savior and Jesus being our Lord...a BIG DIFFERENCE!!

When we walk in the Spirit, we do not walk in perfection - that is impossible. But to walk in the Spirit, I believe, means to be attuned to His voice, His leadership and then being willing to obey - to submit to His authority in our lives.

Isaiah 30:21 says it this way, "Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left."

Of course, because of Jesus, we now have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. His gentle whisper deep within is what we need to listen for. And as we listen, He will steer us to the left or to the right. He will nudge us to give someone an encouraging word. He will ask us to love someone who is unlovely. He may ask us to take groceries or gas money to a needy family...

He may ask us to "Be still and know that He is God."

LIVE in the Spirit.
WALK in the Spirit.
OBEY His sweet voice.

Oh how I love Jesus. Oh how I love Jesus. Oh how I love Jesus, because He first loved me. Lord, You dropped that song in my Spirit and now I understand why. Our relationship is an exchange: You love me, I love You. I speak to You, You listen to me. You speak to me, I listen to You. And I obey Your gentle whispers because I love You and I desire to be transformed by Your Holy Spirit. Take my hand, Precious Lord and lead me on.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Contagious Enthusiasm for God's Word!!

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.'"
(Romans 1:16,17)

Did you know that this statement, "The just shall live by faith," was first written in the Old Testament? I KNOW! That's crazy, isn't it?

Habakkuk 2:4 reads, "Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith."
Pretty neat, huh?

A literal translation from the original Hebrew would read, "The righteous person in (or by) his faithfulness (firmness, consistency, belief, faith, steadfastness) shall live!"

My Spirit Filled Life Bible commentary on Habakkuk includes this statement, "The Jewish Talmud (an authoritative instructional book of all Jewish traditions) states: 'Moses gave Israel 613 commandments. David reduced them to 10, Isaiah to 2, but Habakkuk to one, "The just shall live by his faith."'"

I love this! I love to celebrate the similarities we share with our Jewish brothers and sisters. I love to gain understanding in the Jewish roots to our Christian faith. How RICH!! How intricately we are woven together by God's own hand.

Further digging revealed that, not only did Paul refer to Habakkuk, but in Romans four, he referred to Abraham and David as being justified by their faith. Romans 4:2,3 reads, "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)

And Romans 4:6-8, "...just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute (lay the responsibility for) sin. (Psalm 32:1,2)

God imparts righteousness to those who believe. We do not gain our righteousness (our right-standing with God, our just-ness) through works, no matter how grand and lovely they may be. Our righteousness comes from faith.

Our faith has a rich heritage. Through the gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of God to save everyone who BELIEVES is made manifest, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed, from faith to faith." (Romans 1:16)

Would you like to see two more Scriptures that highlight our Old Testament foundation?

In John 8:56, Jesus is speaking and says, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."

And in Hebrews 11:13, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

Wow!! I hope that I have stirred up amazement in you as you consider our foundations and how great our God really is. I think His Word is fantastic!

I've heard enthusiasm is contagious.
I pray you will catch it and pass it along to other Believers.

Lord, You are incredible - totally and completely incredible!! I stand amazed at Your Word and how everything works together, line upon line and precept upon precept. Thank You for revealing Your mysteries to us as we seek to know and understand You more. I keep thinking about Your Word that says You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Forgive us for only embracing the New Testament and not understanding that Your relationship with Your ancient people, the Jews, laid the foundation for the coming of our Messiah, Jesus Christ. Somehow, beginning to grasp this causes my faith to seem more solid - deeper, tangible. I thank You for this, Lord and I pray for my friends that You would stir up that same sense of awe in them. Thank You, Lord.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

People Need the Lord

"In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, 'I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.' Then His disciples answered Him, 'How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?' He asked them, 'How many loaves do you have?' And they said, 'Seven.' So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude."
(Mark 8:1-6)

These verses tell the story of the feeding of the 4,000. Not long before this, the now infamous feeding of the 5,000 took place. The disciples had apparently forgotten the miracle of feeding the 5,000 because, once again, they were baffled as to how Jesus would feed the multitude.

OR...Did they just not want to be bothered?

I believe, in these verses, Jesus was teaching His disciples through example. Let's look at this closer.

Jesus said to His disciples, "I have COMPASSION on the multitude..."

Compassion. Splanchnizomai (Splangkh-nid-zom-ahee) meaning "to be moved with compassion, tender mercies and feelings of affection."

Jesus saw the hearts of the people - people who were seeking Him and hungry for God's Truth.

The disciples, perhaps, saw a bunch of hungry people who were getting in their way at the end of a long day.

Ouch! Do we do that sometimes? I hate to admit that I have. I have had times where I felt annoyed or overwhelmed by having so much "kingdom business" to do - you know, feeding the hungry, taking blankets to the homeless, fund-raisers for the youth, hospital visits...I love every minute of ministry, but sometimes I just want to take a break and have some "me" time.

How sad! I think that often as Christians, we fall into the "me" trap. We forget that our acts of service are actually acts of worship to our Lord. When we sacrifice "self" and serve Him with a joyful, pure heart, our Father is honored - He is glorified on this earth. And we get to know Jesus a little bit better.

AND - Jesus was trying to teach His disciples to see the HEARTS of the multitude. These people were like sheep without a shepherd. They needed a Savior.

Verse six reads, "So Jesus commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before the multitude."

Jesus did not give the bread to the people Himself. He gave the bread to His disciples to hand out.

This is what Jesus requires of us. He expects us to take the bread of the Word which He has fed us and give it out to a hurting world. He has called us to be "ministers of reconciliation" - reconciling people to the Lord God.

Jesus wants us to see the HEART of those around us just as He does.

He wants us to have COMPASSION on them - to be moved with tender mercy and God's love.

He wants us to shake off the "ME" attitude that stops the Move of God.

Did Jesus condemn His disciples for their attitude? No. He patiently taught them by example. He helped them see the bigger picture. Why?

Because people need the Lord.

Lord, this is a sobering message, but I thank You for gently reminding us that our purpose is not about us. Our purpose is to reconcile people to You who have been separated by sin and tragedies. If ever there was a time that people are hungry for Your Truth, it is now. Help us to become selfLESS in our walk with You. Help us to see the hearts of others the way You see them. Remind us that if it had not been for Your grace and You sending a disciple to us to feed us Your Bread, we, too, would still be hungry and dying in our sins without a Savior. We love You, Lord and we desire to honor You with our service. We give our lives in worship to You, Father.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Danger of Familiarity

"Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His Holy Name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies."
(Psalm 103:1-4)

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and FORGET NOT all His benefits:

Do you ever feel like God can become too familiar?

Familiar sounds like a good thing. And I suppose on some level it IS a good thing - comfortable - like your favorite pair of jeans.

But "familiar" has a hidden danger. With familiarity comes the danger of something becoming commonplace or ordinary. You know...we're FAMILIAR with it to the point that it is taken at face value. We don't need to pay attention to it any longer because we assume we know all there is to know about it.

The sense of wonder and awe has long been set aside, when we become familiar with something.

That happens in our relationship with the Lord sometimes. He becomes very familiar.

And we forget.

We forget His forgiveness.
We forget His power to heal and restore.
We forget His Redemption.
We forget His lovingkindness and mercy.

And we forget to thank Him and give Him praise.

Not because we are ungrateful. Nope. We just don't think about it. Or we assume He knows we are thankful. Why?

Because He has become too familiar.

I like what Moses said in Deuteronomy 6:10-12, "So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant - when you have eaten and are full - THEN beware, lest you forget the Lord Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage."

O bless the Lord, O my soul and FORGET NOT all His benefits!

Father, forgive us for times we take You for granted, for the times we become so familiar with You that we forget just Who You are. I am so sorry for that Lord. It is so very easy to get caught up in my daily realities and routine that You become another "check" on my to-do list. Father, I pray that I will never tire of Your glory, that I will always be thrilled with the thought of spending time with You. Thank You for everything You have done for me. And thank You for Your sweet, sweet Spirit that bathes me in Your love.

Friday, September 24, 2010

For the Lord is the Great God!

"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 under His care."
(Psalm 95:1-7)

There is something about this psalm that immediately reminds me WHO GOD IS and who i am. I can read these words and imagine the throne room of the Lord God. I can imagine throngs of people - His children, the Redeemed of the Lord - gathered at His feet, bowing down in worship, singing His praise, shouting, "Worthy is the Lamb of God!"

Wow! Just think...we will experience this in heaven. What a glorious day that will be!

Did you know you can experience the splendor of the Lord right now? God inhabits the praises of His people!

When we sing TO Him, not just ABOUT Him - when we acknowledge Him as the Rock of our Salvation - when we declare our love for Him with thanksgiving in our hearts - walls of separation come down. Our spirits leap in recognition of His Presence.

In our praise it is vital that we remember the Holiness of God. As much as we love and walk in the fact that Jesus is our brother and our friend, we must never compromise the majesty and holiness of the Lord our God.

Notice the posture of worship described in verse six, "Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."

Bow down. Kneel.
These are postures of humility.

God is not our puppet. God is not a legend or a tradition. He is not something we do on Sundays and Wednesdays.

God is the Creator of the universe.
God is the Holy One of Israel.
He is the God Most High, the All-Sufficient One.
He is the Everlasting Father, the Lord of Hosts.
He is my Shepherd.

The Lord God is the Great I AM!

Embrace this truth today. Dare to believe that God is Who He says He is.

He is worthy of our worship for He IS our God.

Praise You Father! We come before You with thanksgiving in our hearts, with desire to know You more. Teach us to praise You with our whole hearts. Accept the praise we offer to You in humility, acknowledging that You are the Great I AM. And to think, You dwell in the hearts of Your children because You love us. You are wonderful Lord. I love You.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gotta Love Peter!

"Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles; one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah' - because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!'"
(Mark 9:2-8)

Peter, Peter, Peter. Open mouth and insert foot!

It's important to remember that Peter is Jewish, James and John are Jewish. AND Jesus was born of a Jewish mother. So it is understandable that Peter is trying to understand this transfiguration through a Jewish perspective. Although he believed Jesus was the Messiah, Peter was still trying to figure out how everything fit into his convenient little box of understanding and tradition. Certainly Moses and Elijah were great in Jewish history, well deserving of a Tabernacle. After all, they were carriers of the Law, prophets, forerunners of Christ, but...

But, only Jesus Christ would be exalted as Lord, as the Messiah of a lost world.

What happens after Peter's mistaken rambling?

Verse seven, "And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Whoa. The exclamation point is God's, not mine. "Hear Him!"

The cross references excite me because, again, I see the Old Testament supporting the New.

First reference: Exodus 40:34, "The cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle."

Quite often, in the Old Testament, the Spirit of God descended upon the children of Israel in a cloud. This moment was no different. God wanted to erase any confusion Peter might be having concerning this supernatural event and Who Jesus was in relation to Moses and Elijah. God says, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Are you ready?

Second cross-reference: Deuteronomy 18:15,18, "The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me (Moses is speaking) from your midst (Jesus was Jewish), from your brethren. Him you shall hear.' And the Lord spoke to Moses and said, 'I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will set My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.'"

Now, (drum roll, please) get this:

In Acts 3:22,23 Peter quotes these verses out of Deuteronomy as he preaches in Solomon's Portico. He is reminding his Jewish listeners of their prophetic teachings and is proclaiming to them that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the prophets have spoken.

Gotta love Peter. He allowed God to show him the truth of His Son the Messiah. Peter could have crossed his arms in defiance and said, "Jesus, this isn't playing out the way I expected." But instead, Peter embraced the discipline of the Lord and opened the eyes of his heart to understand. He did not allow his religious knowledge to keep him from experiencing the wonders of the Lord.

And that is what we must do.

We must never get so smart in our own eyes that we limit the God of our Salvation.

"But as it is written (in Isaiah 64:4): 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'" (1 Corinthians 2:9)

The Word of God is simply amazing.

Lord, It is true - Your Word IS amazing. I love how intricate it is and how it supports itself as You reveal Your mysteries to Your children. Thank You. Stir up a hunger within us to study Your Word and increase our knowledge of You. Help us to let go of our religious traditions, not because they are bad in and of themselves, but because they limit You and Your power. And help us let go of the pride of our knowledge so that we can hear from You directly. Lord, You always confirm in Your Word the things that You speak to us. Hearing Your voice is not "Twilight Zone" kind of stuff. You clearly say in Your Word that we will know Your voice! Teach us to LISTEN as we pray and learn to recognize Your voice. Thank You, Lord. How exciting it is to unravel Your mysteries and deepen our relationship with You, our awesome God. I love you, Lord.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shalu Shalom Yerushalayim!

"I cried out to God with my voice - to God with my voice, and He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. SELAH I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search...I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds...You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples. You have, with Your arm, redeemed Your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. SELAH"
(Psalm 77:1-3,6,11,12,14,15)

I think we sometimes forget that the Bible is full of people just like you and me - people with hopes and dreams, struggles and victories, joy and laughter.

And don't we usually assume the Psalms were written entirely by David as he leaned against a cold stone in a dark cave while hiding from his enemies?! I KNOW!! A lot of them were written in that manner, but not all.

Psalm 77 was written by Asaph, a Levite who was chosen - designated by name - to give thanks to the Lord in the Tabernacle (1 Chronicles 16:41). He was like the choir director of today. AND Asaph gave these words to Jeduthun, the chief musician of the Tabernacle. Jeduthen's job was to put Psalm 77 to music so that it could be incorporated into worship.

My point? Imagine the children of God gathered in the courts of the Tabernacle singing praise to their God. Now imagine yourself in their midst singing Psalm 77 with them, "I cried out to God with my voice - to God with my voice; And He gave ear to me..." Or, maybe you are singing How Great Thou Art or A Mighty Fortress or...

Isn't that a glorious image? Can you feel the Holy Spirit stirring within you as you connect with the ancient people of God? I feel humbled by this relationship.

And encouraged by their journey. It is so much like my own.

How did Asaph overcome his anguish? He REMEMBERED the works and wonders of the Lord. He proclaimed praise to His God, "You are the God Who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples!"

Throughout the generations the Word of the Lord has endured. It has strengthened and encouraged His people. THAT in itself should empower us to go on. God's Word never fails! He inhabits the praises of His people.

And He understands the hearts of His sons and daughters

The next time you are in church and the choir director stands to lead the congregation in worship, I want you to picture Asaph leading the children of Israel in corporate worship to the same God we love and adore.

Now that will make you think. Right?

Shalu Shalom Yerushalayim! Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

Lord, thank You for the lessons You teach us through Your ancient people. Their journey of faith is really no different than ours except that through the Blood of Jesus You have made a way for Your Holy Spirit to dwell WITHIN us! Other than that, we are all people of covenant, Jews and Christians. Soften our hearts to understand that You want us to pray for our Jewish brothers and sisters. Open our eyes that we might see. Open our ears that we might hear the voice of our Lord calling in the wilderness to pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Humble us Lord. Strip away the religious pride that keeps us from understanding Your Word, for Your ways are not our ways and Your thoughts are not our thoughts. Lord, I ask You to stir within us a love for Your covenant people, the Jews. Help us to see them through Your eyes of love.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

God's Exalted, Supreme Authority

"Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider; Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, so that man finds out nothing that will come after him."
(Ecclesiastes 7:13,14)

"In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider; Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other..."

If there is one thing I have come to understand this year, it is that of God's Sovereignty.

According to Webster, sovereign is "One that exercises supreme authority unlimited in extent; absolute; the most exalted kind; supreme."

Wow! God has supreme authority over not only the entire Creation, but more importantly, over my life. I am learning that I can trust in this knowledge. I find security and rest in these words - not always, mind you - but, more and more. I am learning deep in my soul that the Lord my God really is in control.

It is no newsflash that we are living in perilous times. I know so many people who are unemployed, sick, frightened...unsure of tomorrow.

But, when you know the One who holds your tomorrows , and understand His sovereign authority OVER tomorrow, there is peace, there is assurance. When you realize that nothing is going to come your way without passing the throne of your God first, then fear is dispelled.

I believe God has allowed these difficult days so that the Church will wake up and choose this day who we will serve. I personally don't believe this is punishment from the wrath of God - not yet anyway. I think He is giving us a glimpse of our world without Him. I believe He is using this opportunity to teach us that He, and He alone, is our source.

Maybe this sounds a little disturbing, but I challenge you to see it as an opportunity to awaken your spirit to know the Lord God more, to take hold of the height and depth and width of His love for you.

And His power! Oh my goodness, the power of the Lord to give His children favor, deliverance, miraculous provision...

Yes, His Sovereignty is remarkable.
His Sovereignty is powerful.
And His Sovereignty is comforting.

"And because you are sons (and daughters), God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'"

"Abba, Father" translates "Daddy God".

Your Sovereign God is also your Daddy God.

And we all know that our Daddy can do anything.

Abba Father, we love You. Teach us to understand Your sovereignty - Your supreme authority and how that pertains to us. This is something we should take great comfort in. Lord, open our eyes that we should see the lovingkindness found in Your authority - that You are not a taskmaster lording over His subjects. No! You are Daddy God, Creator of the heavens and the earth. Nothing occurs without Your knowledge. You have appointed the day of prosperity right along with the day of adversity because You have eternal purposes in everything that affects Your children. Prepare our hearts to receive Your Word. Thank You Father.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Crossing Over to the Other Side

"And Joshua said to the people, 'Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.' Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, 'Take up the Ark of the Covenant and cross over before the people.' So they took up the Ark of the Covenant and went before the people. And the Lord said to Joshua, 'You shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, saying, "When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan."' So Joshua said to the children of Israel, 'Come here, and hear the words of the Lord, your God.' And Joshua said, 'By this you shall know that the Living God is among you and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hevites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: Behold, the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing before you into the Jordan.'"
(Joshua 3:5,6, 8-10)

Are you at a place in your journey where it seems to be no way that you can "cross over" to the other side? Take courage from the example God gives us in Joshua 3.

Up until this point, the children of Israel have been led by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night as they trekked through the wilderness. Now they stood on the edge of the Jordan River, needing to cross over to Jericho. According to verse 15, the River Jordan was flooding - it "overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest." In the natural, crossing this swollen river was next to impossible. Yet, there was no other way to get to the other side.

Was Joshua shaken by this obstacle? No.

Joshua said to the people, "Sanctify yourselves - cleanse your hearts and devote yourself wholly to the Lord - for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you."

And then Joshua instructed the priests to take up the Ark of the Covenant, stand in the edge of the river (take that first step of obedience) and the Lord will hold back the waters until His children cross over to dry land.

Why is this significant? Did you know you (as a Believer) are considered a priest? Revelations 1:5,6 reads, "To Him (Jesus) who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and PRIESTS to His God and Father..." You, Beloved, are a priest unto the Father. Consider this as we prepare to cross over to the other side.

OK. What was the significance of the Ark of the Covenant crossing over BEFORE them? The Ark represented the Presence of God. It contained articles of the covenant God made with His people: manna, Aaron's rod and the tablets containing The Ten Commandments.

Every item contained within the Ark represents a foretaste of Jesus and our New Covenant with God:

Manna = Bread from heaven = the Bread of Life = Jesus

Aaron's rod = the authority of Aaron miraculously established beyond any dispute when his rod blossomed overnight, according to the Word of the Lord (Numbers 17) = Jesus came through Aaron's lineage and was given authority over all the earth.

The Ten Commandments
= originally created by God to provide a standard for righteousness that His children might be set apart for Him = Jesus is our Righteousness. He is our bridge to the Lord God.

When we come to the edge of our promise, the Lord says, "Child, I AM with you. I go before you into the dangerous, threatening waters. Nothing is too difficult for Me."

Why would this lesson be so important to our Lord?

Verse 10, "By this you shall know that the Living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you all of your enemies"

"By this you shall know..." By what?

By this...verse 11, "Behold, the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan."

Behold, the Lord Jesus Christ will cross over before you, making straight the paths in the wilderness, the rough places smooth. He will part the waters so that you can cross over on dry ground.

But first, you must sanctify yourself.
Pour out your heart to your Father. Confess your sins to Him, ask Him for a clean heart and begin anew, wholly devoted to the One Who loves you.

The Living God is among you and He will without fail drive out your enemies before you.


Lord God, Always - ALWAYS - You will make a way, if we will only trust You and obey Your instruction. Help us to learn from the children of Israel. Cause this lesson to take root in our hearts and grow until we know in our knower that You are God and absolutely nothing is too difficult for You. Thank You for Jesus, the embodiment of the New Covenant we have with You. Help us understand how rich the Word of the Living God truly is so that we will hunger and thirst after You.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

At the Foot of the Cross

"Now when Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man."
(John 2:23-25)

Does anyone besides me find this interesting? The Scripture says, "But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men..."

What does this mean?

I am certainly no expert, but is it possible that Jesus recognized superficial faith in those people? Verse 23 says they believed in His Name "when they saw the signs which He did."

Maybe Jesus did not commit Himself to them because He recognized their belief came from a core value of "I wonder what He can do for me" rather than understanding the heart of God and a need for a Savior.

In other words, these people were responding to the "Wow" factor instead of to Jesus Himself.

Church, have we been guilty of this? Have we allowed our faith to be flimsy and conditional? Or have we fallen at the foot of the cross, naked and filthy, crying out to a Savior to forgive us and breathe new life into our beings?

I believe God is sifting the Church today. The time for games is over. God is calling us to a deeper walk, a sincere faith...a magnificent journey.

Yes. A MAGNIFICENT journey.

I believe in a God of miracles - always have and always will. My God is omnipotent - all powerful - and I believe He loves to show Himself mighty to His children.

No doubt.

But I also know that God looks on the heart, "For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
(1 Samuel 16:7)

I encourage you to check your heart today, not in a condemning fashion. No. Jesus did not come to condemn us. He came that we might know Him and the Father Who sent Him. He came to set us free! Ask Him to show you any areas that you try to hide from Him - anything that would separate you from His love.

We serve an awesome God.
Our hearts are joined to His unimaginable love.
Blessed is the pure in heart, for he shall see God.

Beloved, dare to fall in love with Jesus again
. It begins with a simple, "Good morning, Lord. I am so thankful You love me...."

Lord, forgive me for the times I take my faith for granted, for the times I wrap it up and tie it with a pretty bow and place it on a shelf for everyone to see. Lord, I want my faith to be so real that I can reach out and touch it! I want it to have deep, deep roots so that even the fiercest storm cannot uproot me. I want my faith to bring You honor and glory all my days. I love You, Lord. You are the cry of my heart. I am so thankful for the sacrifice You made so that I could know You and spend eternity in Your courts. Stir up the faith of Your children.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Grace is Sufficient

"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ my rest upon me."
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

"My grace is sufficient for you..." saith the Lord.

Don't you love this verse? I think the Amplified translation makes it even clearer. (The Amplified translation actually gives the meaning of the words from the original text that sometimes get watered down when converting the Hebrew or Greek language to English.)

Vere 9 (Amplified): "But He said to me, 'My grace - My favor and lovingkindness and mercy - are enough for you, (that is, sufficient against any danger and to enable you to bear the trouble manfully); for My strength and power are made perfect - fulfilled and completed and show themselves most effective - in your weakness.' Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ, the Messiah, may rest - yes, may pitch a tent over) and dwell - upon me!"

That's powerful, isn't it? You might want to read it again to allow the promise to sink deep within your spirit.

Are you struggling with something? Are you carrying a burden that far outweighs your ability to cope? Then together, let's look up into the heavens and realize that, because of our weakness and infirmity, the strength and power of Jesus has pitched a tent over us so that He might rest upon us!

The Tabernacle in the wilderness was a tent.
Yes, this tent, the Tabernacle, was the dwelling place for the Spirit of God.
You, Beloved, are NOW the Tabernacle, the tent of dwelling, for the Spirit of God.

And your weaknesses supernaturally attract His strength and power.

Father, I have always loved this promise of Yours. It makes we realize that Your grace is tangible - something I can reach out and take hold of at my point of need. That is remarkable Lord and I am so thankful for it. I pray that I would never take Your grace for granted, but that I would always understand its availability and then receive it by faith. I depend on Your strength and power when I am weak or heavy-laden. And I know that You will always honor Your Word and do as it says. Thank You, Lord. Thank You that when I am weak, then You are strong. I love You, Lord.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Open Our Eyes That We May See

"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 his servant said to him, 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?' So Elisha 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."
(2Kings 6:15-17)

"Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see."

Sound familiar? I pray this prayer often. It is a principle I learned years ago and one that I desperately want to impart to you.

There is a spiritual realm as surely as there is a physical world.

Again...There is a spiritual realm as surely as there is a physical world! We need only open our eyes that we might see! The Lord our God has given His angels charge over us. We are surrounded by a multitude of witnesses.

In today's passage of Scripture, the king of Syria was making war against Israel. The king sent horses and chariots and a great army by night and surrounded the city of Dothan.

And then Elisha's servant saw the enemy closing in and grew afraid.

We do the same.

We see our circumstances through our natural eyes.
We need to see our circumstances through the eyes of faith.

Friend, you can trust in the knowledge that the One "Who makes the clouds His chariot and Who walks on the wings of the wind," anticipates your cry for help, your groans of desperation. He takes delight in rescuing His children. God can always make a way where there seems to be no way. We need to TRUST Him...

"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."

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!

I love You, Lord! You, Who knows our going outs and our coming ins - YOU know our hearts as well. And You know when we are afraid. I am not ashamed to tell You when I am afraid because You are my Father and I trust You. Open my eyes that I may see You in all Your Glory. Open my eyes that I may see You in the throws of battle and know beyond any shadow of doubt that I am not alone. You are great O Lord and I praise You!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Sun and the Moon Stood Still

"Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: "Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalo.' So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, til the people had revenge upon their enemies."
(Joshua 10:12,13)

Let me set the scene for you.

The Israelites were on the move under the leadership of Joshua. They had just defeated Jericho and Ai. The army of Gibeon surrendered and ultimately made peace with the children of Israel. Things were looking good...

Little by little, God's people were possessing the land.

This infuriated the Amorites, especially the surrender of Gibeon. The Amorites hated Israel. They were governed by five kings who joined forces and went up to camp before Gibeon and make war against them.

The men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua, "Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us." (10:6)

Have you ever felt that way? Have you felt like all the armies of hell have gathered against you? I certainly have.

Let's go on. How did the Lord respond to this dilemma?

Verse 8: "And the Lord said to Joshua, 'Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.'"

Joshua was strengthened by God's assurance of victory, but he knew he did not have the luxury of just sitting back and watching the battle. Joshua knew HE would have to fight to possess the promise of God.

The battle ensued. The Lord was in their midst, victory was in sight, but the end of daylight was growing near.

What did Joshua do? He PRAYED! He prayed with the authority of one who knows he is a child of God. He spoke directly to the sun and moon and commanded them to stand still so that daylight would not leave them.

And Joshua's prayer of faith touched the heart of God.

Through God's omnipotent power, the sun and moon stood still. Daylight lingered and the victory was won.

What is the take-away here?

This story parallels our Christian walk.
Think about it. Joshua and the children of Israel had won some mighty battles. They had already conquered Jericho and Ai. Gibeon had surrendered and were at peace with Israel. The Children of God were advancing toward their kingdom. I would imagine the children of God were sitting pretty in their triumphs. Then out of the blue, five Amorite kings attack Gibeon to punish them and to block Israel's advance toward their Promised Land.

Isn't that just like Satan?
When we are moving forward for Christ, he is thinking up new weapons of warfare to defeat us. It is important to see our Christian journey through spiritual eyes. It is foolish to deny the truth of spiritual warfare.

But Beloved, you have been given authority through the blood of Jesus to overcome the work of the enemy. At the name of Jesus, Satan must flee. The victory belongs to you!

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - OUR FAITH!"

Amen? be it!

Lord, You are God of the mountains and God of the valley. You never leave Your child alone to fend for ourselves. Help us to realize that we need only to pray and listen for Your instructions. Then we need to step out in faith to obey Your voice. That's the hard part. We believe, but help us with our unbelief. Lord, You are awesome in power, mighty in victory. Thank You Lord. If God be for me, who can be against me? Our God reigns!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Master of Breakthroughs

"Now when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. And David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. The Philistines also went and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. So David inquired of the Lord, saying, 'Shall I go up against the Philistines?" And the Lord said to David, 'Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.' So David went to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there; and he said, "The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water.' Therefore he called the name of that place Baal Perazim (Master of Breakthroughs)."
(2 Samuel 5:17-20)

"The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water."

Do you need a breakthrough? Let me introduce you to the Master of Breakthroughs!

David was in a battle for his life. The Philistines - his enemies - were searching for him. David asked the Lord what he should do and the Lord replied, "Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand."

And the result?

"The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water."

Have you ever seen a dam break? The water surges over and through its barrier, bursting full throttle onto the scene below, destroying everything in its wake.

Its power is unleashed.
It consumes anything that would dare stand in its way.
Its angry authority commands attention.

This is what the Spirit of God did for David. David's enemies wanted to kill him, but His Father said, "I don't think so!"

Do you need to have the power of God unleashed in your circumstances? Do you need for Him to "break through your enemies, like a breakthrough of water?'

Then, like David, inquire of the Lord.

Ask Him for guidance.
Ask Him for strength and courage.
And ask Him for deliverance from your enemies.

Hell has known no fury like that of our loving God, Adonai.
He cares for you. He loves you with an everlasting love.

And nothing is impossible for Him.

Praise You, Father. Thank You for being our Protector and our Deliverer. You are mighty and powerful to save. Hide us in the cleft of the Rock while our enemies pass us by. Deliver us from the snare of the fowler, the arrows that fly by day and the pestilence that walks in the darkness. Your Truth is our shield. You, O Lord, are our refuge. Encourage my friends today. Lift their spirits and give them hope for tomorrow. You are faithful, Lord. We love You.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pilgrimage, A Journey of Love

"Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca (Weeping), they make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools (blessings). They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion."
(Psalm 84:5-7)

"Blessed is the man whose heart is set on pilgrimage."

These words stir within me a sweeping visual of a child holding her Father's hand as they walk together down a dusty road. The sky blankets them with shades of sapphire, interrupted only by the cottony tufts of a passing cloud.

But the journey has been long.

On occasion, the Father carries His child, allowing her to rest against His beating chest. He shields her from the threatening glare of the enemy lurking in the shadows along the path. The Valley of Weeping has been especially harsh. The scorching heat of the sun has, at times, been too much to bear. The child is parched from the lingering dry conditions. Relief for her thirst must come soon, or she fears their odyssey will end before reaching her destination.

But the Father is with the child. She grips His hand a little tighter and draws strength from her faithful Companion.

The landscape around them begins to respond to the Presence of her Father. Clouds gather overhead. A storm is coming but the little one is not frightened - her Father is with her. Rumbles of thunder roar, tentacles of lightening course through the sky.

But the little one is still not frightened - her Father is Present. She presses in a little closer.

The storm unleashes its fury. Her Father carries her once again, shielding her from the piercing drops of rain slung at them by the powerful blasts of wind.

But the little one is still not frightened. Her Father carries her through the storm.

And then it stops as suddenly as it appeared from beyond the horizon. Pools of refreshing water breathe new life into the desolate places.

The child laughs and sings and playfully splashes the puddles of life onto her Father. He lifts her up and spins her around in a joyful dance. She is refreshed, restored...content.

Pilgrimage. A journey of love.

A journey you will not make alone.

Father, the journey is often long and tedious. Sometimes its harsh winds seem relentless. But then you intervene and send refreshing rain. You lift me up and we rejoice together. Lord, You are my faithful Companion. I love You so much. Thank You that, together, we will reach my destination. Because of You, I am never alone.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Can You Hear His Voice in the Wilderness?

"Then they said to him, 'Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?' He said: 'I am "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord."'"
(John 1:22,23)

The subtitle for this passage of Scripture caught my attention. It reads, A Voice in the Wilderness.

A Voice in the Wilderness.

Think about it. Have you ever felt so overwhelmed and confused that you felt lost - defeated - by the approaching darkness?

I have.

But then, a voice, strong and clear, called to me, "Nan, it is I, the Lord, your Adonai. I will make a way in this wilderness where there seems to be no way. Follow the sound of my voice. I will lead you to the Light."

This is exactly what John the Baptist was doing in these verses. He was calling out to the people, preparing them to receive their Lord, their Adonai. "I am the voice Isaiah spoke of many years ago, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of Adonai; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'"

It was customary during this time for the road to be smoothed and leveled in preparation for a visit from the king of the province. Hence, the phrase, "Make straight the way of the Lord (the King). John was saying, "The King is coming. Prepare the way to receive Him by cleansing your heart, repenting of your sins. Remove any obstacles that will prevent His coming to reign in you."

An interesting cross reference is Proverbs 3:6, "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths."

Direct. Yashar (Yah-shar), "to make straight, right, pleasing, good."

"In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall yashar (make smooth or straight) your paths.

John said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make yashar the way of the Lord."

When we acknowledge Him as Lord, in all things, it indicates a deep relationship. When He is Lord - Adonai - it means He has total possession of me and I am totally submitted to Him as my Master.

I am His and He is mine.

And I recognize His voice calling to me in the wilderness.

Adonai, Open our ears that we might hear, our eyes that we might see Your approaching Glory. Your Light shines bright in our darkness lighting our paths. Help us to remove anything in our lives that prevent You from being the One True God. We praise You, Father. We thank You for never leaving us, nor forsaking us. You are beautiful beyond description.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It is No Dream, Our God is Near

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
(James 4:8)

I have often stood on this promise of God. What a comfort it is to know that when I cry out to Him, He will respond. As I stretch out my hands to Him for deliverance, or hope, or peace...or for just a warm embrace, My God responds.

I love that.

I found a poem written by Hetty Bowman in 1872. Her poem beautifully expresses my thoughts on this precious verse. I believe it will bless you as much as it has me.

Draw Nigh To God, And He Will Draw Nigh To You

Weary and faint
Our garments stained with sin and soiled with tears -
Not tears that fall like blessed summer rain,
But heavy drops of pain,
Wrung from the heart's deep passion and distress,
Wrung from the yearning of its tenderness -
Thus - with the guilt and grief of days and years
We do draw nigh.

Yes - we draw nigh!
We are not worthy, Lord, to seek Thy face -
Not worthy - for our need is all our plea -
Yet may we come to Thee -
Nor fear to bring our darkness to Thy light,
All pure and holy in Thy perfect sight,
Clad in the white robe of our Saviour's grace -
So we draw nigh.

Yes, we draw nigh -
To Thee, the Comforter, we come for peace, -
Thou knowest, Lord, our weakness and our fear,
And Thou wilt surely hear, -
Wilt hear the cry that from life's wild wide sea
Rises from hearts that only cling to Thee; -
One look, one word, can bid our anguish cease -
So we draw nigh.

Thou wilt draw nigh!
Father - it is no dream that Thou art near -
No dream that, in my sin and misery,
I may look up to Thee, -
May hide beneath the shadow of Thy wings,
From all the restlessness of outward things,
And from my own heart's self-accusing fear -
For Thou art nigh!

Beloved, hide beneath the shadow of His wings, from all the restlessness of outward things, for it is no dream...our God is near.

Yes, He is near.

Father, what a blessed thought this poem provides! Help us to grasp the reality of Your Presence, the power and strength this truth affords. You are so very faithful to Your Word. Your love for us is nothing short of amazing. Thank You, Father. Thank You from the bottom of our hearts.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

When God Has Other Plans

"Now it came to pass, when David was dwelling in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, 'See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord is under tent curtains.' Then Nathan said to David, 'Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.' But it happened that night that the Word of God came to Nathan saying, 'Go and tell My servant David, "Thus says the Lord: You shall not build Me a house to dwell in...And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever..."

"Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: 'Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O God; and You have also spoken of Your servant's house for a great while to come and have regarded me according to the rank of a man of high degree, O Lord God. What more can David say to You for the honor of Your servant? For You know Your servant...O Lord, there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. So let it be established that Your Name may be magnified forever saying, 'The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, is Israel's God...For You, O God, have revealed to Your servant that You will build him a house. Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray before You.'"
(1Chronicles 17:1-4,11,12,16-18,20,24)

I know this was an extremely long passage, but I felt very drawn to it. I'm not sure why, but let's explore it. I believe God has a message for someone specifically through this Scripture. I don't know who you are, but the Father does.

David longed to build the temple of God. Through his leadership, the ark of the covenant had been recovered. Worship had been restored. And David, you might say, was in his element. Now, he would build the temple. No longer was it necessary for the Ark to travel through the wilderness.

But God had other plans.

The Spirit of God spoke to David through the prophet Nathan. He told David, in essence, that his son, Solomon, would be the one to build the temple.

Not David.

All of his plans, perhaps yearnings, were taking on a new direction

How would David respond?

His reaction was one of humility and thanksgiving
. He did not display anger or frustration with the Lord. No. He acknowledged the greatness of His God. He acknowledged the sovereignty of His God.

Perhaps David was reminding himself of these things. Hmmm...

It was a very honest dialogue. David shared his heart with the Lord. But then, David rested in the knowledge that God, alone, is God.

And David praised Him.

"A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."
(Proverbs 16:9)

God has purpose as He directs our steps.

Lord, what a beautiful example of obedience and trust You have shown us. Thank You. Thank You for Your patience as we learn to fully rely on You - as we learn to relinquish our will to Yours. I am learning that even when I cannot trace Your hand, I can always trust Your heart.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Lord Reigns. Indeed.

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His Name, make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His Holy Name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth. O seed of Israel His servant, you children of Jacob, His chosen ones! Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; And let them say among the nations, 'The Lord reigns.'"
(1 Chronicles 16:8-13,31)

I'll venture to say that no matter what kind of day you're having, you already feel better having read these words of praise. Right?

Go ahead! Read them again. Let these words remind you of who you are in Christ. You are His child, His chosen one!

Thank Him, not with just a tiny, quiet murmur. Thank Him exuberantly for being your God, Your Savior, Your Friend.

Sing a song to Him,
not only ABOUT Him, but TO Him. No one else will hear you - only the heart of the One Who loves you dearly. I promise you that if you will let go of your pride and sing a song to Your Lord, give Him praise and thanks, you will sense His Presence. Everything about that moment will change because suddenly you will realize that you are not alone.

His strength will be made manifest.
His grace will be sufficient.
His peace will cover you from head to toe.
And His love will embrace you.

The Lord Reigns.


Lord, Your Word lifts me, encourages me and fills me with joy. Thank You. I will sing praise to Your Holy Name. I will remember the ways You have changed my life. I will remember Your wonderful works among Your people. You are awesome God. Thank You for your faithfulness to save.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Are You Looking For Peace?

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:6,7)

I'm not sure why, but anxiety seems to be a cross I bear. I genuinely struggle with this issue. But, praise God, he has me on the path to victory.

I am learning to trust and not be afraid.

Do you understand the term, 'supplication'? It is much more than just speaking your requests to your heavenly Father. Supplication suggests engaging in earnest, intense prayer for an extended period of time. It means to fully transfer the burdens of your heart into God's hands.

Makes me think of the phrase, "Praying it through" - not stopping until the peace of God is once again reigning in my heart.

Now, are you ready for something wonderful?

"...and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will GUARD your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Guard. Phroureo (froo-reh-oh), is a military term that refers to a sentinel - a guard - who protects against the enemy!

Like it or not, (and I don't) we are engaged in spiritual warfare at all times. We have an enemy who seeks to destroy us and you can be sure he knows our weakest links.

Anxiety is one of mine.

But this scripture tells me that when I pray - really pray, SUPPLICATE - about the concerns of my heart, the peace of God will stand GUARD over me.

Who is our peace? Jesus. "For He Himself is our peace..." (Ephesians 2:14)

Can you see that picture in your mind? I can picture the Angel of the Lord, Jesus Himself, towering over me, the splendor of His Light bursting through my darkness. I can see Him protecting me, placing Himself between me and the enemy.

And I can hear Him speaking gently to my troubled heart, "Nan, peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)

Child, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Help me, Lord, to fully trust - I mean COMPLETELY trust - in You. Set me free from my anxious ways. Fill me with the peace that passes understanding. I accept Your gift of peace and I choose to learn and grow in my times of prayer with You. You are faithful to Your Word. Lord, I am standing on Your Word that promises Your peace as I earnestly bring my concerns to You with a thankful heart, knowing that You are faithful to hear the cry of my heart. Thank You for encouraging me today. I love You, Lord.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Chains Are Gone

"The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people...but because the Lord loves you and because He would keep the oath (the covenant) which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh, King of Egypt. Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments."
(Deuteronomy 7:7-9)

If only we could take hold of this truth - not with our minds, but with our spirits, deep in the core of our beings.

God truly loves His children, unconditionally, from everlasting to everlasting. He is faithful and merciful. We can depend upon His Word, trust in His Name.

If only we weren't so stubborn! It's easy to walk in faith and victory on the mountaintops, but, in the valleys?! Not so much!

In the valleys we tend to forget.

God brought us out of our bondage with a mighty hand. He redeemed us! Do we really understand what that means?

Redeemed. Padah (pah-dah). "To release, preserve, rescue, deliver, liberate, cut loose, to free, to ransom."

God has set us free from the chains that bind us! Why? Because He loves us. It's that simple.

No longer am I chained to anxiety...unless I forget my redemption.
No longer am I chained to low self-esteem...unless I forget my redemption.
No longer am I chained to my sins...unless I forget my redemption.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found; was blind but now I see.
My chains are gone - I've been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood, His mercy rains...
Unending love, amazing grace.

Father, what would we do without Your grace and mercy? Thank You for Your redeeming love. Help us to walk in the freedom You have afforded us and to never forget that we are Your children. You have paid a great price for us - we belong to You. Thank You Lord. We praise Your Holy Name!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Set Your Love Upon Jesus

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.'

"Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

"A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked.

"Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

"'Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him (saith the Lord God); I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him, I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him, and show him My salvation.'"
(Psalm 91)

This Psalm has carried me through many a storm. As I read it, I sense God's enormous love for me. I am reminded of who I am in the Light of His love. I am reminded of His covenant with me. And I am reminded that He is my refuge, my safe haven when the cares of the world come in with the furious roar of a tempest.

And I want you to be reminded of these things, as well. So many of you are hurting or you are carrying the burdens of your loved ones. Bearing tremendous layers of stress has become the new normal. Sometimes it is hard to walk by faith and not by sight.

And that's when I read Psalm 91
. I love this psalm, and I am very thankful for its words of grace. Try putting your name in it wherever it says 'you' or 'yours' or any other appropriate pronoun. You will be blessed, for sure.

God be with you, friends and give you strength for the day.

Lord, thank You for reminding me of Your incredible love. It means so much to me. You are faithful, Lord. You are powerful and mighty to save. And You hold us in the palm of Your hand. Amazing.

Monday, September 6, 2010

God Will Move Heaven & Earth For You

"When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah became His sanctuary and Israel His dominion. The sea saw it and fled (Exodus 14:16); Jordan turned back (Joshua 3:17). The mountains skipped like rams, the little hills like lambs (Exodus 19:18). What ails you, O sea, that you fled? O Jordan, that you turned? O mountains, that you skipped like rams? O little hills, like lambs? Tremble, O earth, at the Presence of the Lord, at the Presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool of water (Exodus 17:6), the flint into a fountain of waters (Numbers 20:11)."
(Psalm 114)

As I searched through the Scripture this morning, I repeatedly returned to this passage. I felt drawn to the tenacity of the Lord as He delivered His children from the bonds of slavery in Egypt and led them, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the Promised Land. He literally moved heaven and earth for their sakes!

God never gave up on His children and He never gives up on us.

When He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, "Judah (Israel) became His sanctuary." He dwelt among them because of the Holy Tabernacle - His dwelling place built according to His commandments - that traveled with them through the wilderness.

Beloved, WE are the sanctuary of God through the Blood of Jesus and the power of His indwelling Spirit. The Father has gone to great lengths to be with us. He gave His only Son as a sacrifice so that through His Blood we could be cleansed of all unrighteousness. He holds onto us with a powerful grasp. We are His special treasure.

That's worth repeating, "You are His special treasure!"

God loves you with an everlasting love and He will do anything to sustain you, preserve you and bring you into your Promised Land.

Yes, your Heavenly Father will move heaven and earth to sustain you through your wilderness.


Lord, I receive so much encouragement knowing that You will do anything for me - nothing is too difficult for You. I am comforted to know that I am Your special treasure. Thank You. You, Lord, are my portion and I hope in You. You are precious to me.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Just Do It!

"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
(Matthew 7:24-26)

Let's face it. Storms are gonna come. Circumstances will suddenly rock our world and challenge our faith.

Jesus clearly instructs His disciples on how to survive the storm, "HEAR what I say to you and then DO it!"

Sounds like obedience to me...

Obedience places us in the center of God's will. The center of His will is filled with blessings, provision, protection. When we are in the CENTER of His will, we are living WITHIN His love, completely embraced and surrounded by Him. Sound familiar?

Jesus never promised us a bed of roses (as nice as that would have been). But He did promise He would never leave us nor forsake us. He did promise that He has made us to be more than conquerors, as we trust in Him and obey His Word.

The key is to build your life upon the Rock - the Rock of your salvation - Jesus.

In His book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote, "The crisis will reveal whether we have been practicing (obedience) or not. If we obey the Spirit of God and practice in our physical life what God has put in us by His Spirit, then when the crisis comes, we shall find that our own nature as well as the grace of God will stand by us."

Our faith must grow - mature. But the foundation must be sure. Build your faith upon the Rock - Jesus.

Know His Word. Know His voice. Then do it.

Just do it.

You, Lord, are my Rock - a sure and strong foundation for my life. I choose to listen to what Your Word tells me and then to apply it to my life. I desire to not be a hearer of the Word only, but also a doer. Forgive me for when I fall short and lean on my own understanding and wisdom. I know that as I depend on You, I will withstand the storms that swirl around me. Thank You, Lord.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

There is the Sound of Abundance of Rain

"Then Elijah said to Ahab, 'Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.' So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, 'Go up now, look toward the sea.' So he went up and looked, and said, 'There is nothing.' And seven times he said, 'Go again.' Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, 'There is a cloud as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!' So he said, 'Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.' Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel. Then the hand of the Lord came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel."
(1 Kings 18:41-46)

This is a fabulous depiction of the power of prayer and the Sovereignty of God.

The children of Israel had endured a drought for three years because of their idolatry of Baal under the leadership of King Ahab. They believed that Baal was the god who could produce rain. "As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word," said the Lord through the prophet Elijah. (17:1)

Now the time for rain had come, but only under the direction and power of the Lord God.

If you'll remember, Elijah and 450 prophets had battled over who would consume their sacrifice by fire, Baal or the Lord God of Israel. Obviously, the Lord won the challenge.

And now Elijah says to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain."

Was it raining yet? No. But the Lord had spoken this to Elijah in verse 18:1, "Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth." Elijah stood on the Word of God. There was a promise in his spirit and he knew he could stand on it with confidence.

"...for there is the sound of abundance of rain."

Oh my goodness! Let that drop into your spirit, my friend, "for there is the sound of the abundance of rain."

I don't know about you, but I could use some rain about now...

What happened next?

Elijah went to the top of Carmel to pray. Six times he sent his servant to look toward the sea in search of storm clouds. Six times there was nothing. So Elijah continued to pray. Elijah stood on his conviction that the Lord had told him now was the time for rain.

Notice Elijah was not arrogant with God. God was not his puppet.

God was God.
And Elijah knelt in prayer, submitting to the sovereign authority of God.

And...he never gave up.
Elijah prayed expectant prayers.

He sent his servant out a seventh time and this time the servant returned with a good report, "There is a cloud as small as a man's hand rising out of the sea!" (verse 44) Elijah instructed his servant to go to Ahab and tell him to "prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you."

And then the sky grew black with storm clouds, the wind began to howl and the rain poured.

God is good.
And God does what He says he will do.

He is Sovereign.
He is faithful.

And He responds to fervent prayer.

Praise You, Lord! You are faithful and You will watch over Your Word to perform it. Nothing is too difficult for You. Father, I pray You will speak words of encouragement into my friends today. These are difficult days. We are in seasons of drought. I believe these are times of preparation for the days that lie ahead. Thank You for showing Yourself strong in our lives. You are worthy of our praise. Yes, You are trustworthy and mighty in power. Thank you for Your love and for the promise of Your Word.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Has God Stopped You in Your Tracks?

"Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, 'Ananias.' And he said, 'Here I am, Lord.' So the Lord said to him, 'Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.' Then Ananias answered, 'Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your Name.' But the Lord said to him, 'Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My Name before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel.'"
(Acts 9:10-15)

As I ponder these words, I can't help but think about how the Lord orchestrates our lives - how he puts all the pieces in place. Through this example of Scripture, I want us to understand this principle of God's Sovereignty a little better.

To begin with, Ananias had a listening ear - he heard the Lord when He spoke. But, Ananias was reluctant to obey. He knew Saul's reputation and tried to talk God out of His plan. After being honest with the Lord, Ananias chose to trust God, even though his mind told him this was a bad idea - His faith and trust in the Lord won out. His obedience not only restored sight to Saul, but it was Saul's first understanding of how personal God is with His children. It was his first lesson in faith.

What is God's motivation or purpose for sending Ananias to Saul? "...he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My Name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel."

Before Saul was even born, God had a plan for his life; He knew Saul before his birth, "Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me when as yet there were none of them." (Psalm 139:16) God had ordered Saul's steps all along. He was created for a purpose.

But, in order for that purpose to unfold, the Spirit of God had to work through people - people with obedient hearts.

Let's start with Saul, "...for behold, he is praying." Saul had been blinded on the Damascus Road and taken to the house of Judas. "For three days he was without sight and neither ate nor drank." (verse 9)

He spent his time in prayer and fasting. PRAYER. Saul had met his Savior, the Christ whom he had opposed. God had literally stopped Saul in his tracks and changed the direction of his life.

Praise Him!!

Did Saul sit around murmuring and complaining? No. He prayed. And because he prayed, God spoke to him in a vision and told him that a man named Ananias would come to restore his sight. The spirit of God encouraged him through his prayer time.

What if Saul had not prayed? I don't know. Would God still have sent Ananias? Probably, because God had already ordained Saul's ministry. But, Saul would have spent these three days in fear and confusion over his blindness. Maybe he would have lashed out in anger towards God. I don't know, but I think it is safe to say had Saul not spent his time in prayer, Satan would have spent three days beating him up, creating doubt and fear.

And possibly, the purpose of his life would have been postponed.

Has God ever stopped you in your tracks? Did you spend your time analyzing your experience, feeding the doubts Satan sent your way? Or, did you cry out to the Lord in prayer, accepting in faith that He was at work?

Saul waited on God.
We must learn to wait also.

I once was blind, but now I see.

Lord, You have ordered the steps of my life. Before I was born You knew me. You have called me by Your Name. Thank You Lord. As I look back over my life I can see how you have put the pieces together to bring me to this place. I once was blind, but now I see. You have promised that "everything works together for our good, to those who love You and are called according to Your purpose." Thank You, Lord for making that promise clearer. I give You praise.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Redeemer Lives!

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end He will stand upon the earth. Even after my skin has been destroyed, in my flesh I will see God, I will see Him myself; I will see Him with my very own eyes. How my heart yearns within me, waiting for this to happen!"
(Job 19:25-27 Inspirational Study Bible/max Lucado)

I love the fact that Job is the one speaking in these verses. Talk about someone going through a rough season!

Job taught me a very important lesson many years ago. He taught me that when I can't praise God for my circumstances, I can ALWAYS praise Him for Who He is. Job said, "Even though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless, I will argue my ways before Him." (Job 13:15)

Don't you love his honesty? To me, Job displays true faith - a genuine relationship with the Lord. Job says, "No matter what happens in my life, I WILL place my hope and my trust in my Redeemer. And - AND - I will argue my points - yes, present my case to Him. Why? Because I know my God and my God knows me."

Wow - what a glorious thought!

Job has his eyes on the prize. He knows that he is chosen of God. He knows that everything about this earth is temporal - a snap of the fingers. He knows that after he suffers a little while, he shall behold Him, face to face, in all of His glory.

"How my heart yearns within me, waiting for this to happen!"

The words to a song I love came to mind as I wrote this message:
O Lord You're beautiful,
Your face is all I see.
And when Your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.

God's grace.

Puts everything into perspective, doesn't it?

Praise You, Lord! I love Job. Maybe its because I can relate to him so easily. But, you know what? You allowed him to go through a very difficult season because You knew His heart and You knew that once it was all said and done, Job would remain faithful to You. That is my prayer. I want my heart to bless You, to honor You. I want my faith to be sure and unwavering. I am so thankful that we are in relationship, Lord. I don't know what I would do without You.