Monday, February 28, 2011

A Gentle Mist Called Grace

"This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."
(Genesis 2:4-7)

"...but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground."

I don't believe I have ever noticed this verse before. The Bible is like that, you know. Let's put it into context.

In Genesis, chapter one, we are told the creation story. Chapter two begins with God's celebration of the Sabbath rest on the seventh day. And then we have verses 4-7 which revisit the thought that there was a time when there was no earth, a time that required a Creator. Even though the Lord created each portion of creation - the sun & moon, the animals, the stars, the seas, vegetation - it still had not rained and there were no people. Verse 5, "For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground."

BUT. But there was a mist that came up (like a spring) from the earth to water the ground.

Now, bear with me. I've been doing a whole lot of thinkin' (and by now you know what can happen when I do a whole lot of thinkin'). Here goes...

I began to think about dry and barren times in my life when I needed rain.
Do you know what I mean? Just a few drops of refreshment would be so satisfying. My spirit cried out for a drink of the Living Water, which at times of delirious thirst, seemed so far away .

BUT. But there was a mist that came up (like a spring) from within to water my dehydrated soul.

Before I even had the need, God provided the life-sustaining water through His Spirit within me.
Before YOU even had the need, God provided the life-sustaining water through His Spirit within you.

Sounds a lot like grace, doesn't it?

Grace. Unmerited favor. Undeserved mercy...a gentle mist of life-sustaining love from the Father.

Father, thank You for the refreshing mist when we find ourselves dry and weary. Thank You for the grace when we are waiting for the rain. You never cease to amaze me Lord. Your goodness is overwhelming. We love and appreciate You.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Call to Holiness

"Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen - the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's new creation:

"I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, 'I am rich. I have everything I want. I don't need a thing!' And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me - gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.

"Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

"Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches."
(Revelation 3:14-22, New Living Translation)

I sure wish I could tell you that this was going to be a warm and fuzzy message.
But it's not. Sorry.
I, too, prefer feel-good, faith and victory, foot-stomping happy words.
But this one is not.

The Lord led me to these verses this morning
. I have mulled over them all day, trying my best not to address the issues they refer to. But God wouldn't let me drop it. much as I encourage you to walk in obedience, I must do the same.

I believe the Lord's motive is to cause us to THINK, to ponder, to examine our hearts, not for the purpose of condemnation. No! For the purpose of a Father's love.
Much of the world is in turmoil. Natural disasters seem to be happening weekly. America as we know it is fading away. We, as Christians, are on the verge of understanding the cost of discipleship like never before.

And that is why our Heavenly Father wants to shine His Light on our heart condition.

If there ever was a time to make a stand for Christ, it is now. We must know the One in Whom we have believed. We must make Him Lord of our lives - not just Savior. Walking down the aisle to the altar is not enough. It is the beginning, but it is not enough. Jesus wants to be LORD - ruler, the authority - of our heart.

I've been thinking all day about God choosing the word "lukewarm" and what exactly that means. Someone the Lord considers to be "hot" or "cold" is, I think, self-explanatory. "Hot" is a person who is on fire for God - sold out, devoted through thick and thin. Someone that is "cold" has no relationship with the Lord, so therefore can still be wooed by the Holy Spirit.

I wonder if "lukewarm" might be someone who is self-righteous?
I can't say that for sure, but it definitely makes sense. I believe a self-righteous person holds one of the most dangerous positions before God. A self-righteous person goes through all the motions of Christianity, but without really knowing God. God is kept at arm's length. The relationship with the Lord is carnal - head knowledge, not heart knowledge.

A self-righteous person has not been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
A self-righteous person has hardened their heart against the Word of God.

Verse 19 reads, "I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference."

This is why the Lord has such a strong word for us today. It is because He loves us and wants us to spend eternity with Him. The Body of Christ must begin to understand the need for holiness, for serious pursuit of righteousness. Jesus is preparing His Bride for that great and glorious Day of His coming.

Please, do not reject the Word of the Lord. Possibly you are very committed to Him, devoted to His service, acknowledge Him as Lord and yet there are areas in your life that are not surrendered to Him.

I KNOW, because I'm right there with you. I know that there are STILL things in my life that are not surrendered to His Lordship. Maybe these areas could be considered "lukewarm". MAYBE God would label these areas as self-righteous because I am trying to conquer things on my own rather than place them under the Blood of Jesus.

"Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches" (Verse 22).

OUCH! That one hurt, Lord. But I know it is for our own good and it comes from a place of love. You are calling us to a higher standard. You are calling us to holiness. Open our eyes that we might see and understand how important it is to make You Lord. Only with YOU will we be able to withstand the coming days. We want to honor You, Lord and glorify Your Holy Name. Create in us a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within us. Shine Your Light on any areas in our heart that is not submitted to You. Forgive us for any self-righteousness that we try to hide from You. Have mercy on us, Father. Have mercy.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Love of God is PRESENT Love

"What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won't He also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? No one - for God Himself has given us right standing with Himself. Who then will condemn us? No one - for Christ died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, pleading for us.

"Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, 'For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.') No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, Who loved us.

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
(Romans 8:31-39, New Living Translation)

The subtitle for this passage of Scripture is "God's Everlasting Love". Oh, that we could fathom this sweet friends, oh, that we could fathom it.

Paul asks five questions that, once considered, should leave no doubt concerning our spiritual security:
1 - If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
2 - Since God even gave His Son for us, won't He also give us everything else?
3 - Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own?
4 - Who then will condemn us?
5 - Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love?

Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Are you discouraged? The love of God is PRESENT love. It is now. It is for this very moment of your life and it covers absolutely everything that concerns you.

And NOTHING, absolutely nothing will ever separate you from His love.

Sing with me...
Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me...
For the Bible tells me so.

Sometimes it just feels good to be a child again and crawl into your Father's lap.

Lord, How can we ever thank You enough for Your love? You paid a debt You did not owe, We owed a debt we could not pay. Thank You for loving us no matter what! Forgive us for the times we question Your love or forget Your love. Father, we desire to bless You in all things. Please, receive our love as an offering of praise.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Lord Lives! Blessed Be The Rock!

"You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. SELAH"
(Psalm 32:7)

As a young Christian I learned this verse through a song we sang during praise and worship. These are the words we sang:

Thou art my hiding place;
Thou art my hiding place;
Thou shalt preserve me from trouble.
Thou shalt compass me about, with songs of deliverance.
In times I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.

I exalt Thee. I exalt Thee.
I exalt Thee, O Lord.
I exalt Thee, I exalt Thee.
I exalt Thee, O Lord.

For Thou O Lord, art high above all the earth,
Thou art exalted far above all gods.
For Thou O Lord, art high above all the earth,
Thou art exalted far above all gods.

This is actually a combination of two songs that we placed together. I vividly remember the feelings of comfort as we sang these songs. My heart joined with my Father's and I experienced the peace of His Presence in a powerful way.

That is my prayer for you, today.

As you struggle for security, long for provision or solace - the Lord your God is your hiding place. Several cross references took me to verses referring to the Israelites hiding in the clefts of the rocks during battles. Clefts are like indentations along the rock cliffs of barren landscapes. They provide secrecy and refuge from someone engaged with the enemy.

Who is the Rock of our salvation? Jesus!
He is the Rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2)
The Lord is my Rock! (2 Samuel 22:2)
For You, Lord, are my Rock. (Psalm 31:3)

Can you picture yourself fleeing from your enemy? You can see the mountain ahead of you. You know that if you can only reach the mountain, you will be safe, for that is the mountain of the Lord. You call out your Father's name as you run. Reaching the mountain, your enemy is in hot pursuit. You begin to climb. And climb. With all your might you get your footing and reach your hand heavenward, grasping for a stronghold - something, anything to get you beyond the enemy's reach.

And then suddenly - beautifully - lovingly - the Father reaches down from the mountaintop, taking your hand in His.
He raises you up to His secret hiding place - a cleft in the Rock that only His children can know about. Hiding there in the shadows, with only the Light of His love to comfort you, you are safe. The enemy passes you by.

2 Samuel 22:47 reads, "The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, the Rock of my salvation!"

Indeed. Blessed be the Rock!

Father, You are so awesome! I love the imagery this scripture evokes. Your strength is so comforting to me. Indeed, You are my hiding place. What a wonderful thought! Thank You Father. I exalt You, Lord.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Tale of Two Pails

"Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
(Psalm 126:5,6)

I want to share a Jewish story with you. It is called, A Tale of Two Pails. This story is like a parable in that it teaches a spiritual truth about brokenness.

In the story, a gentleman (the Master)carried two pails of water each day to the people in his community. Day after day he made the trek. One day the pail on the right side of the pole fell off and cracked.

But the Master didn't throw the pail away; he continued to use the broken pail to carry water to the people.

Every day he made the trek with the two pails of water.
Every day the broken pail dripped water along the path.

When the Master arrived at the people's homes, the bucket on the left was full and had plenty of water to share. The pail on the right had only a small portion of water left because it had dripped water along the journey.

One day the broken pail said to the Master, "Master, I am no good to you. I am broken. Please, just throw me away." And the Master replied, "Don't you know how good the world has become because of your brokenness? Please, come with me. Let me show you how beautiful the world is because you hung from my pole on the right side of the road, right where I put you. Do you see the flowers there? Every place you dripped through your brokenness, I planted a seed. Because you were broken, the dry, barren ground was watered and a flower bloomed."

Do you love this story as much as I do? Can you see the image of sowing in tears because of brokenness? Now, open your eyes to see the beauty and joy that results when the Master uses your brokenness for His glory.

Beautiful, isn't it?

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy...

"For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." (Galatians 5:22,23)

Sounds like a good harvest to me.

Father, What a beautiful illustration this is. Thank You. We want to run from our brokenness, to rid ourselves of the pain. But You want us to see that our brokenness produces beauty in our lives...IF we let You comfort and restore us. Help us see the fruit of our tears. Open our eyes that we might see. Thank You, Lord.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

GOD, My God, I Can't Thank You Enough

"I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up...O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me...Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks...Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."
(Excerpts from Psalm 30)

I was drawn to this Psalm today. The Lord has brought me through some personal challenges lately and I know many of you have also been battling some giants. I am old enough to realize the truth of the old saying, "this, too, shall pass". I am also human enough to know that the night is long and the sorrow is fierce when a Believer is engaged in a battle of the faith.

I looked Psalm 30 up in some other translations to try to gain insight. I want to share the entire Psalm 30 with you from The Message because I love how it reads. It is written just like I feel when I'm at my wit's end and then the Lord, in His infinite mercy, pours out His grace and delivers me. See if you can hear your voice as well and then see if you can feel your spirit rise up with joy as you sense your Father's pleasure.

"I give you all the credit, GOD - You got me out of that mess, You didn't let my foes gloat. GOD, my God, I yelled for help and You put me together. GOD, You pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out. All you saints! Sing your hearts out to GOD! Thank Him to His face! He gets angry once in awhile, but across a lifetime there is only love. The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.

"When things were going great I crowed, 'I've got it made. I'm God's favorite. He made me king of the mountain.' Then You looked the other way and I fell to pieces. I called out to You GOD; I laid my case before you. 'Can you sell me for a profit when I'm dead? Auction me off at a cemetery yard sale? When I'm "dust to dust" my songs and stories of You won't sell. So listen! And be kind! Help me out of this!'

"You did it: You changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflower. I'm about to burst with song; I can't keep quiet about You. GOD, my God, I can't thank You enough."

"GOD, my God, I can't thank You enough."

SELAH. Pause and think about it.

Father, How can we ever thank You enough for Your faithfulness? Your patience? Your mercy? We give You praise as we consider the works of Your hands, Your thoughts towards us. Help us to experience the joy that David felt as he worshiped You in thanksgiving for delivering him from his enemies. Help us to sing and dance before You unashamed, full of joy. We love You, Lord.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gee, Thanks Paul!

"And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.'"
(Acts 14:21,22)

"We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."
Gee, thanks, Paul!

In my quest to know God better, I have asked Him a lot about suffering. Many years ago, as a young Christian, the prevalent thought was that as a Christian we rise above the suffering. You might remember...Name it, Claim it; prosperity message; suffering means you don't have enough faith...Remember?

The deceiver is like that. He takes a little bit of truth, dips it in what feels good and turns out deception. Jesus DID bring us abundant life - things that money cannot buy. By His stripes we ARE healed, absolutely - but I have learned He is sovereign. We CAN ask anything in Jesus' Name - the Name above all names - but our Lord is NOT a puppet!

Okay. Got that off my chest.
Now, suffering.

How can there be a victory without a battle? How can there be a triumph without a trial? How can we possibly understand God's amazing grace without the need for comfort, provision or strength?

All good questions.
Suffering happens on this earth.

But I have good news. In John 16:33 Jesus promises that "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Now the part I am busting at the seams to tell you. The word for tribulation is a Greek word, thlipsis (thlip-sis) meaning pressure, stress, anguish, squashing, crushing. Isn't that a great way to describe our trials and tribulations? I KNOW! Can I get a witness?

As I have sought the Lord on this subject He showed me a beautiful truth. In the instructions for the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the Israelites were instructed to keep the Golden Lampstand burning at all times. Its purpose was to illuminate the evidence of God beneath the tent of the Tabernacle. The oil had to be pure, made fresh daily and it was obtained by CRUSHING olives in an olive press. The CRUSHING produced the pure oil for the Golden Lampstand.

Our times of crushing (tribulation) produces the oil of the Holy Spirit which illuminates the evidence of God in our lives WHEN we walk through the fire with the Lord. When we strive to glorify Him in all things, when we choose to trust Him even though things don't make sense, when we press in and hide beneath the shadow of His wing until the storm passes by - THEN the Light of Christ burns bright to illuminate the evidence of God.

Can you see it? Can you find purpose in your trials? When we can see the face of Jesus in the midst of anguish and pain we are entering the Kingdom of God. We are learning the very essence of the Father. We begin to understand His mysteries. Our faith becomes sure. Our Light shines bright.

Jesus suffered. Moses cried out, "Lord, just take me. These are Your children, not mine!" Elijah declared, "It is enough, Lord!" If the very Son of God suffered, who are we to breeze through life in a fairy tale?

About seven years ago I went through a period where I could not even pray! All I could say was, "Jesus. Jesus." But my heart said it all. I was determined to go through the fire with my Lord. Forget the theology! I needed Jesus. He met me at the point of my need and poured out His grace on me. My battle became a victory. My trial became a triumph. And my crushing produced the oil of the Holy Spirit.

God showed up. The oil of the Holy Spirit produced by my crushing proved it. I saw Him in the Light.

Blessed Lord, You are beautiful beyond description. Your grace is simply amazing and the fellowship of Your suffering is life-changing. Help us find our peace in You. Help us trust Your heart when we cannot trace Your hand. Open our eyes to see You in the midst of our trials. Give us courage to endure the crushing so that the world might see You in our lives.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Sovereign Lord I Know

"The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of His Servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the Name of the Lord and rely on His God."
(Isaiah 50:4,10)

I have been learning a great deal about sovereignty lately. In fact, it seems to be a common thread throughout the Body of Christ. When a theme, or principle, or scripture or key word keeps popping up, we need to pay attention. God is speaking.

As the world becomes more and more difficult, as our trials become more and more severe, great comfort can be found by the one who chooses to trust in the sovereignty of God.

I looked up the word sovereign in the Roget's Thesaurus and found representative words such as: authority, absolute, commanding, effectual, guiding, highest, majestic, reigning, ruling and supreme. Now, add some of these words as adjectives in front of the Name of our Lord: Absolute Lord, Effectual Lord, Guiding Lord, Highest Lord, Reigning Lord...isn't that awesome? This helps us understand the character of our Sovereign Lord.

The Amplified Bible
translates verse 10 this way, "Who is among you who reverently fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His Servant, yet who walks in darkness and deep trouble and has no shining splendor in his heart? Let him rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and let him lean upon and be supported by his God!"

There are times when our sight is clouded, our minds are numbed by confusion and anxiety. These are the times of darkness and deep trouble Isaiah is referring to. The darkness in our soul dims the Light of Christ so that it no longer shines brilliantly within us. But what does Isaiah say next? "Let him rely on, trust in, and be confident in the Name of the Lord. Let him lean upon and be supported by his God." Why? Because He is SOVEREIGN! Absolute. Effectual. Guiding. Supreme.

When you have your back against a wall, when your ears are humming with the buzz of confusion and your eyes can only perceive a dark path before you - command your spirit to step up to the plate and rely on, trust in and be confident in the One in Whom you have believed!

It is a choice.
A difficult choice because the deceiver of our souls would have us wallow in our pain. He would have us focus on the insurmountable problem in front of us. He would have us throw our hands up in defeat and miss the miraculous intervention of our Lord.

Beloved, don't listen to the deceiver. Run to the Sovereign Lord.
He is in control of everything that concerns us. When you think He is silent and not doing anything about your problem...STOP and THINK. That is not what the Word of God says about His relationship with us. He is faithful to His children. He hears us when we call. He lights our path. He parts the sea to let us cross. He destroys the enemy.

And when you think He's not doing anything, I have learned THAT is when He is doing the most.
He is putting His plan in place. He is setting up divine appointments. He is ordering my steps to fulfill His purpose in me. And in you.

THAT is the Sovereign Lord I know.

I love You, Lord. I take such comfort in the knowledge that You are in control of this world. Teach all of us to discern the spirit - to know Your voice and to NOT listen to the voice of the deceiver. Rise up within us. Grant us peace where there is despair, joy where there is sorrow. Thank You, Father. You are precious.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

We Are Safe In His Arms

"For though the mountains should depart and the hills be shaken or removed, yet My love and kindness shall not depart from you nor shall My covenant of peace and completeness be removed, says the Lord, Who has compassion on you."
(Isaiah 54:10)

God's love - His mercy and kindness - towards us is from everlasting to everlasting. His covenant of peace and completeness is also from everlasting to everlasting.

Can we take hold of this truth? OH, how great is the Father's love! Let it sink in.

From everlasting to everlasting.
Forever and ever.
For all of eternity.

We are held in the arms of our Father. Though the heavens and the earth shall pass away, we are safe in His love. Though the mountains should depart and the hills be shaken or removed, we are safe in His love.

As the events around the world unfold, I find great comfort in these promises of God. As events in my own life and the lives of loved ones are, at best, unsettling, I find great comfort in these promises of God.

And that is my prayer for you.

In an uncertain world, God is our constant.
Hope in Him, rely upon Him, depend on and trust in Him. Make Him a part of your every moment. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Great is His faithfulness towards His children.

Isn't it a blessing to know that you belong to Elohim, the Creator of the universe?

Rest in Him today. Seek His face while He may be found.

"For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock" (Psalm 27:5)

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Father, what a comfort it is to know that we can depend upon Your constancy. As the world around us becomes more and more troubled, we KNOW that You remain faithful to Your children. We appreciate Your covenant of peace and completeness. We are grateful for Your compassion. Lord, Your perfect love casts away all fear. With You, our future is sure and filled with hope. You are precious Lord. We love You.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Let Your Heart Rest In His Hand

"But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
(Isaiah 40:31)

As I was having my quiet time this morning my sweet Jesus reminded me of this verse. Most of us are familiar with this pillar of the Scripture. Maybe so familiar that we take its powerful words for granted. We skim over them, probably think how beautiful they are and then go about our daily grind, without ever drinking in the refreshment these words provide.

The Amplified Bible
reads this way, "But those who wait for the Lord (who expect, look for, and hope in Him) shall change and renew their strength and power; They shall lift their wings and mount up close to God as eagles mount up to the sun; They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired."

Beautiful, right?

Those who WAIT for the Lord...who expect, look for and hope in Him...

Those who come to God EXPECTANTLY change and renew their strength. Their expectancy lifts them close to God - to their source of strength.
No longer are their burdens their own. The mighty hand of the Father lifts them from shoulders stooped by the baggage of worry and anxiety. His Presence brings fullness of joy, unspeakable peace. He lovingly wraps the garment of praise around His child to replace the spirit of heaviness.

I have mentioned the devotional, Come Away My Beloved, by Frances J. Roberts on several occasions. Overcome with weariness this morning, I read the following which in turn took me to Isaiah 40:31. I pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to you as He did to me.


Wait upon Me.
Let your heart rest in My hand as a bird in a nest.
Let your eyes be still. Let your hands be free.
For then I shall fill all your vision, and then I shall take your hands into Mine and My power shall flow forth into you.

If you would only make yourself a place apart, yes, removed from the pressure and turmoil, and there I will meet you. Yes, I wait for your coming.
For I long to pour out My blessings upon you, and I long to give you My fullness.
Only be still before Me.
Never let the toils and cares of the day rob you of this sweet fellowship with Me.

How can we ever doubt the love of our Lord? "Let your heart rest in My hand as a bird in a nest." That sentence brought tears to my eyes. What a precious image of His love.

Friend, receive His love today.
Receive His rest from your burdens.
Let His love restore you and give you peace.

Take His hands in yours and feel His power flow forth into you.

Blessed Lord, Take our hands and help us stand. Sometimes the burdens are heavy and our spirits stoop from the load. Forgive us for trying to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders instead of giving it to you. Thank You, thank You for Your amazing love. Teach us to wait on You - to make a concerted effort to sit quietly in Your Presence. Thank You for Your faithfulness. We love You, Lord.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Way of Wisdom

"I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her (instruction, wisdom), for she is your life."
(Proverbs 3:30)

The way of wisdom.

As a Christian, I have learned to pray for wisdom - God's wisdom. James 1:5 instructs us to ask God for wisdom if we are lacking it. Countless times I have asked my Father for insight, wisdom and instruction as I am ministering to someone. If I have a decision to make I ask Him for His wisdom. When I encounter confusion swirling about me (and you know confusion is just like a whirlwind!) I have learned to STOP and ask my Heavenly Father for wisdom, insight or understanding.

Each day, I ask the Lord for wisdom as I write Morning Glory, "Lord, let me hear Your voice. What is the message for today? Grant me the understanding needed to encourage and strengthen my readers today."

And He is faithful to hear my cry, answer me and pour His wisdom into my spirit.

The wisdom of Almighty God is perfect. His knowledge is lacking in nothing. As we turn to Him for wisdom He reveals the deep and secret things. Remember, the Lord knows what is in the darkness because the Light dwells with Him!

Romans 11:33 is powerful. "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)!" The Amplified Bible

Are you in the process of making serious decisions? Or, for that matter, even small ones? Is someone turning to you for advice and you haven't a clue how to help them? Do you find yourself totally confused about the direction you should take, the purpose God has for you?

Beloved, ask of Him! He stands waiting to guide you, to comfort you, to give you understanding.

I love the fact that many, many times in the Word, Jesus told His disciples that His people would know His voice. He didn't say we MIGHT know His voice. His promise is that we WILL know His voice.

But we have to learn to listen.

Be STILL before Him and listen.

"When you walk, your steps will not be hindered. And when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction - insight, wisdom - and don't let go."

Praise You, Father! Your wisdom is beyond comprehension. Thank You for making it available to us. Teach us to recognize Your voice, to not be deceived by the enemy who would lead us to believe that it is IMPOSSIBLE to know Your will or to hear Your voice. Increase our faith, Lord. Pour Your magnificent wisdom into us. Thank You, Lord.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gabriel Flew In With An Answer... Swiftly!

"Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, 'O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision.'"
(Daniel 9:20-23)

Daniel was interceding on behalf of his people.
He was pleading with the Lord God to restore His holy Temple, to cleanse and restore the children of God to righteousness before their God.

Daniel's prayers were passionate. He was standing in the gap carved deep between judgment and forgiveness, between desolation and restoration. Daniel was baring his soul before the Lord.

I love God's response: Daniel said, "While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel...BEING CAUSED TO FLY SWIFTLY, reached me about the time of the evening offering." I don't know why, but this struck me funny. I guess because Daniel spoke of this so nonchalantly..."Oh, by the way, while I was in prayer, Gabriel flew in with an answer!"

But, my goodness...Gabriel DID fly in with an answer! SWIFTLY!!

Gabriel's message was profound. He said, "When you began to plead with God, He answered you. He loves you and so I have come to tell you the answer" (Contemporary English Version). The Message reads like this, "You had no sooner started your prayer when the answer was given. And now I'm here to deliver the answer to you. You are much loved!"

Friend, God hears us when we call out to Him.

Isaiah 65:24 says, "It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking I will hear."
Jeremiah 33:3 reads, "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."

The Father delights in responding to earnest, urgent prayers - those filled with humility and honesty. He is drawn to the brokenness of His people.

God loved Daniel a great deal.
His love for YOU is immeasurable.
Know that when you bow before the throne of grace, baring your soul before your Lord, KNOW that He hears you and will respond.

Just one thing...if Gabriel comes flying swiftly into your prayer closet, I want to be the first to know!

Father, what an awesome example of answered prayer! And, to think, because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, You are able to communicate Your answers to US directly. Open our ears that we might hear and know Your voice. Grant us confidence to believe that You really do care enough to respond to our cries for intervention or provision or peace. You are a faithful God. We give you glory, honor and praise.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Can You See Fireworks?

"And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?

"He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen."
(Deuteronomy 10:12,13,21)

What does the Lord require of you?
Verses 12 and 13 speak of five actions: to fear (reverence), to walk, to love, to serve, and to keep.

This is going to sound crazy, but I'm trying to find the words to help you experience what I did when I read these verses. Okay, ready?

Think on these five requirements: reverence, walk, love, serve and keep. Really think - ponder them. Now ask the Lord to give you a mental image of these actions: Can you see yourself carrying out these requirements - not alone, but hand in hand with your Lord, in His presence?

Your whole being is involved, isn't it? Every part of you. You are loving Him with all of your heart and mind and soul and strength when you carry out these five requirements.

Can you feel God's pleasure as you willingly acknowledge Him as Lord? He is honored and glorified by your actions. Now the really good part...

You're walking hand in hand, right? Look up into the star-filled sky. Can you see fireworks? Yes, I said fireworks. Why? Because...HE IS YOUR PRAISE!!!! Isn't that a glorious thought? "He is your praise and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen." He becomes your praise - your celebration - when you reverence Him, walk with Him, love Him, serve Him and keep His Word!

I LOVE that verse...the Lord is my praise.

Moses spoke these words to the children of God as he reminded them of their deliverance from Egypt. Everything wasn't hunky-dory in the wilderness, yet the Israelites could not deny what God had done for them - He had set them free from the chains of bondage and had claimed them as His own.

That is what God has done for us through His Son, Jesus.
He brought us up out of the "land of Egypt" (so to speak) and set us free from the chains of bondage. He brought us before the throne of grace where our Heavenly Father said, "I will be your God, and you will be My people."

Yes, He is our praise and He is our God who has done great and awesome things!

Bless the Holy Name of the Lord!

Father, I love this Word from You! Thank You, Lord. Thank You for helping us experience the celebration of Who You are! You are awesome, Lord and worthy of our praise. Take our hand and lead us on. We are Yours, Lord.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Isn't It Remarkable?

"The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you."
(Deuteronomy 7:7,8)

The Lord chose you and me because He loves us.

Plain and simple.
We were chosen because He loves us.

Isn't that remarkable?
We try so hard to complicate this relationship we share with Almighty God. We work feverishly to put God's love into the confines of human love. We think that if we can embellish it with poetic prose, paint it with glorious words of the heart or analyze it with deep theological arguments that THEN we can contain it. THEN we can understand it. THEN we can explain this unexplainable force of grace and mercy and love.

Yes, it is remarkable, isn't it?

We can't earn it. The Israelites, of which we are now grafted in by the Blood of Jesus, were not chosen by God because they were great in number. No. God chose them because He loved them. He chose them and us to be His special treasure, the apple of His eye.

Plain and simple.

Perhaps we complicate God's love because that way we can keep up our defenses and keep Him at a distance.
After all, how could He possibly love someone like me? Surely a Holy God couldn't REALLY love me! I'm not good enough. I'm not pretty enough. I'm not smart enough, or generous enough or compassionate enough...

Ephesians 2:4,5 from The Message reads, "Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, He embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on His own, with no help from us!"

Plain and simple.

Isn't it remarkable?

Father, indeed, it is remarkable! We try so hard to understand Your love, but it is impossible. It so far exceeds human love. It cannot be measured. Open our eyes that we might see and understand that YOU LOVE US, plain and simple. Thank You, Lord for Your love.

Monday, February 14, 2011

According to God's Eternal Purposes

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
(Romans 8:28)

I have been learning a lot about eternal purposes lately.

We are so focused on the here and now. After all, we are physical beings living in a physical world. Everything that impacts our lives is of utmost importance to us, as it should be. But we need to understand that God's perspective may not be the same as ours, for God is Spirit. For us, our life may last 80 or 90 years, but to God, our life is but a snap of the fingers in light of eternity.

So, I'm learning (from my Jewish brothers and sisters) that the Lord is always considering our eternity. Oh, be sure, He is concerned about our needs. He delights in providing for His children. But, that's just because He is our Father and that's what Dads do. As Almighty God, His main concern is that we spend eternity with Him, that we are changed from glory to glory, that we are transformed into the image of His Son.

That is His purpose.
And the goodness occurs for those who love Him.
And the goodness occurs for those who do their best to walk in obedience.

One of my favorite devotional books of all time is Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts. It is a collection of gentle whisperings of the Holy Spirit to Frances Roberts during his quiet time with the Lord. He recorded these precious words to encourage others in their walk of faith. Please let the Holy Spirit minister to you as I share one of the messages that encouraged Frances Roberts many years ago:


Hold fast, for I am with you:
Stand still, for I am your God.
Be quiet before Me,
For I have arranged all things for you according to My good will,
Yes, according to My eternal purposes.

For I have purposes and plans and desires which reach far beyond your present view.
You see only the immediate situation,
but My thoughts for you and My planning for you embrace eternity.
Yes, you are in My hand.
Rest there, and leave all else to Me.

God's Perspective.
Something to think about.

No matter how vicious your trial may be, you can KNOW that God will be faithful to fulfill His good purpose in you.

You are so precious Lord. Thank you for Your encouraging Word today. Help us to rest in the assurance that You - the Sovereign Lord - have everything in control. Nothing comes our way without coming past You first. Help us to look into Your eyes, to seek Your face when we feel frantic. Calm us, Lord. Quiet our spirits and cause us to rest in You. Thank You, Lord.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Whole Being, Praise the Lord!

"My whole being, praise the Lord; all my being, praise His holy Name. My whole being, praise the Lord and do not forget all His kindnesses. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He saves my life from the grave and loads me with love and mercy. He satisfies me with good things and makes me young again, like the eagle.

"The Lord does what is right and fair for all who are wronged by others. He showed His ways to Moses and His deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord shows mercy and is kind. He does not become angry quickly, and He has great love. He will not always accuse us, and He will not be angry forever. He has not punished us as our sins should be punished; He has not repaid us for the evil we have done. As high as the sky is above the earth, so great is His love for those who respect Him. He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from the west. The Lord has mercy on those who respect Him, as a father has mercy on his children. He knows how we were made; He remembers that we are dust.

"Human life is like grass; we grow like a flower in the field. After the wind blows, the flower is gone and there is no sign of where it was. But the Lord's love for those who respect Him continues forever and ever, and His goodness continues to their grandchildren and to those who keep His agreement and who remember to obey His commands.

"The Lord has set His throne in heaven, and His Kingdom rules over everything. You who are His angels, praise the Lord. You are the mighty warriors who do what He says and who obey His voice. You, His armies, praise the Lord; you are His servants who do what He wants. Everything the Lord has made should praise Him in all the places He rules. My whole being, praise the Lord."
(Psalm 103, The Inspirational Study Bible)

Sometimes I just need to let the Word speak for itself.

Let this be your prayer throughout today. Let praise rise up within you. We should never become so comfortable and familiar with God that we forget to praise Him.

Praise Him all ye peoples, praise the Lord!!

Bless You, Father! We give You glory and honor and praise. We praise You for Who You are and we thank You for Your mercy and love. We thank You for Your faithfulness, for Your power. You are the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth! Father, we humbly bow before You and give You praise.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fear Not, For I Am With You!

"But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, 'You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'"
(Isaiah 41:8-10)

Glory! "Fear not, for I am with you!"

Can you imagine it? Elohim, the Creator of the Universe is with you wherever you go, whatever you do...He is with you. You are not alone. He dwells richly within you! Its hard to fathom, isn't it? But, it is true.

Turn your ear toward heaven and hear Him whisper, "You are not alone."
Let it sink in. Let these words of Truth strengthen you. Let Your Heavenly Father minister peace to your restless spirit. Let His perfect love cast away all of your fear.

Nothing is so big that our God is not bigger. No pit is so deep that our God is not deeper. Remember, the Name of Jesus is a strong tower. Those who run to Him are saved. He is your refuge, your shelter from the storm. Call upon His Name, Jesus.

Say it again...Jesus. Let His peace flow over you...Jesus. Let His Presence embrace you...Jesus.

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I love you," saith the Lord.


Father, You are so sweet. Thank You for ministering to us today. I don't know who You specifically are speaking to through this message, but I know that all of Your children will benefit. Thank You for caring enough to strengthen our spirits. We love You Lord and are so grateful for Your Presence. Praise You, Father!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Heart Unrestrained

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
(Hebrews 11:6)

I want to share something with you that I pray will be a huge blessing in your life.

I have a Jewish friend, Michael Gibbowr, who amazes me with his faith.
He walks closely with God and seeks to know Him intimately. Michael knows that, because he is a Jew, he is in covenant with God. He understands my desire to bridge the gap between Jews and Christians and to help others understand that we are brothers and sisters under Almighty God. Because of that, Michael encourages me a great deal.

Do you know the song, "I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold. I'd rather have Jesus than riches untold...?' Michael heard this song and understood why Christians would enjoy its message. He took the melody and wrote new lyrics from his Jewish perspective. I think you will love it as much as I do...

by Michael Gibbowr

I'd rather Your mercy than what my merits could sway.
I'd rather Your compassion than what people portray.
I'd rather Your kindness than the ransom of kings.
I'd rather be in Your Presence over anything...!

Just to sit at Your feet and learn of Your laws.
To be a part of Your Heavenly cause.
I'd rather praise & worship Your Name on high
From a heart that's unrestrained.

I'd rather Your wisdom than the wit of man.
I'd rather Your guidance than the best laid plans.
I'd rather Your blessing than what rusts and decays.
I'd rather be in Your Presence through the End of Days.


Yes, the question was asked and was answered of me,
My views on the present and of eternity.
Some laughed and some scorned at my humble reply,
How I'd rather be in Your Service than rule with riches to the sky.


Pretty amazing, huh?

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

Father, Thank You for Michael and his friendship to David and me. Pour out your blessings upon him. And, Lord, open our eyes that we might see Your heart. And help us to see Michael's heart as well. He is your son and he is searching to know You more...just like me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Let It Rain

"Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you."
(Hosea 10:12)

"Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord."

I can't remember having read this before even though I know I have. Surely my eyes scanned the words, but my mind must have wandered.

Or maybe God prepared this Word for me to SEE it today. Know what I mean?

"Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord.

Fallow ground is ground that has not been tilled.
Hosea is addressing the principle of sowing and reaping and making sure the soil of our heart is prepared to receive the Word of God. He says that if we plant seeds of righteousness, we will reap mercy.

But my thoughts went to something else.

"Break up your fallow ground..."

Have you ever tried to plant a garden in red clay?
It is SOOOO difficult! Clay is downright hard! It is ornery, stubborn and definitely has a mind of its own. Only through breaking up the clay with a hoe or tiller will it yield to the gardener's hands. Only through breaking it up can the gardener plant seeds and expect a harvest.

Perhaps that is what happens when we go through periods of brokenness. Our hardened hearts are broken down into pliable soil to receive the Word of God.
Can you see the image of the broken clay? Can you see the Gardener's calloused hand gently pushing the soil aside to make the perfect site for His seed of righteousness? Beautiful, isn't it?

Friend, it is time to seek the Lord. Our hearts are being prepared to receive His Word like never before. Strife and discord are commonplace. Struggle and stress have reached new heights. Could these difficulties be laced with eternal purposes?

Brokenness breaks up the fallow ground to better receive the Word of God.
"For it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you."

Let it rain, Lord. Let it rain.

Praise You, Father! Help us see that our times of brokenness have eternal purpose. We desire Your righteousness. We long for Your mercy. And we yearn for that coming Day when we will see You face to face. Take our hearts, we ask you; Take our lives, we give You. We are Yours. We are Yours. Thank You, Lord.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Secret Place of Thunder

"You called in trouble and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. SELAH"
(Psalm 81:7)

"I answered you in the secret place of thunder..."

This sentence grabbed my attention today.

As I slowly thought about each word, an image of a billowing storm formed in my mind. There was thunder and lightening, dark ominous clouds driven by fierce winds. I saw myself as a child caught out in the storm, frightened and alone, being violently tossed to and fro. In my imagination, I called out to my Daddy to help me, to comfort me, to shield me from the wind-driven rain piercing my skin.

And my Father answered me.
He answered me in the secret place of thunder.

Many of my friends are really struggling right now. Some are facing the loss of a loved one or serious illness. Some are facing obstacles that only the Lord Himself can deliver them from. Others are without jobs, fighting severe depression or just simply trying to keep their head above water.

Many of you are in the storm I just described.

You are not alone in the storm.
Let's say that again, a little louder and with a little more faith, "I AM NOT ALONE IN THIS STORM!"

In the very darkest moment of your life, when the fiercest of storms is swirling all about you, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. God the Father is with you. He is in the eye of the storm. His chariot rides upon the clouds, His voice courses through the rolling thunder.

It is His Light you see in the midst of the darkness.

Beloved, He is with you.
This storm you are facing holds a secret place where God abides. Run to Him. The darkness is but the shadow of His wing sheltering His child.

Perhaps the storm is a gift - an opportunity to abide in the secret place of the Most High God.

Blessed Lord, We cry out to You as Your children and anticipate Your Presence, Your Light, Your love. I lift up my friends who are hurting, frightened and overwhelmed. Comfort them Lord. Show yourself strong in their lives. You, Lord, are mighty to save. Let them hear Your voice in the storm. Thank You Father.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sometimes We Just Need To Hear The Truth

Jesus said, "I am the true vine; My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of Mine that does not produce fruit. And He trims and cleans every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already clean because of the words I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. A branch cannot produce fruit alone but must remain in the vine. In the same way, you cannot produce fruit alone but must remain in Me.

"I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing. If any do not remain in me, they are like a branch that is thrown away and then dies. People pick up dead branches, throw them into the fire, and burn them. If you remain in me and follow my teachings, you can ask anything you want, and it will be given to you. You should produce much fruit and show that you are my followers, which brings glory to my Father. I loved you as the Father loved me. Now remain in my love. I have obeyed My Father's commands, and I remain in His love. In the same way, if you obey my commands, you will remain in my love. I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy."
(John 15:1-11, The Inspirational Study Bible)

The Lord led me directly to this scripture today. Oh, I would love for you to think that I was in a very holy place and that under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit I turned immediately to the Gospel of John.

Divine inspiration? Yes.
Me in a very holy place? No. Unfortunately.

I was in a fog all day. My body is rebelling against old age, my mind is struggling to keep it all together and my spirit...well, my spirit was hanging by a thread to the vine.

That's why my Jesus led me to this verse.

I was trying to do everything in my own strength rather than drawing life from the vine.
I am ashamed to say that I have not been hungering and thirsting after God's Word. My spirit has been hungry, but my flesh has been lazy and selfish. I'm like Paul who said, "The things I want to do, I don't do and the things I don't want to do, I do! Oh wretched man, who will deliver me?" (Romans 15)

The answer to that question is JESUS, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the "sap" that runs from the vine into the branches giving it life. It is the life-force, the power, the strength.

You know, God doesn't squeeze our nostrils shut so we'll open our mouth in order for Him to pour in His Word. He expects us to feast on His Word, to drink from the fountain of Living Water because we want to, because we desire His Presence. He expects us to obey the nudging of His Holy Spirit when He is "quietly yelling" at us to remember that He, alone, is God and that there can be no other gods before Him! After all our God is a jealous God.

He has so much for us. He is a good God - a great God! He wants us to achieve our dreams, to fulfill our purposes. He wants our joy to be the fullest possible joy! And He knows how difficult this old world can be if we try to find our way on our own.

So, please, don't let this be a downer today. Let it be a reminder that apart from Jesus we can do nothing. My Father spoke these words to me because He loves me enough to discipline me. He loves you enough too.

Rise early and join Him at the table set for you. He has a delicious feast prepared.

Father, Great is Your faithfulness! Your mercy endures forever and Your love is from everlasting to everlasting. Thank You for loving us enough to discipline us when we need it. You promise that when we are weak, You are strong. I feel weak, Lord. My body wants to rest, but my spirit needs You. Help me rise early to spend time with You before my little world gets crazy with activity. Be strong in me, Lord. I don't want to miss a single Word You have for me. Thank you, Father.

Monday, February 7, 2011

And After The Fire, A Still Small Voice

"And there he (Elijah) went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; And behold the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'

"So he said, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts; For the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; And they seek to take my life.'

"Then He said, 'Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.' And behold, the Lord passed by and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains, and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;

"And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; And after the fire a still small voice."
(1 Kings 19:9-12)

This is a phenomenal story.
Get ready. It might bless your socks off!

First, a little backstory...

The prophet Elijah had just defeated 450 prophets of Baal in a spectacular competition to see who the One True God is: Baal or El Shaddai, the Lord Almighty. Elijah won in an awesome display of God's power.

Now the bad news.
Her name is Jezebel.

Jezebel was King Ahab's wife. She made it her mission to destroy Elijah, the prophet of God. (Side note: Rev. 2:20 warns us that in the latter days the spirit of Jezebel will be released to influence congregations to worship other "gods" - to not obey the commandments of the Lord our God. Ever wonder what's happening to our churches today? Just sayin'...)

Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah and told him that by the next day he would be dead. Verse 3 says that Elijah "arose and ran for his life."

Gotta love the humanness of Elijah! Remember, he had just had enough faith to challenge 450 prophets of Baal and win. But one woman threatens to kill him and he runs for his life.

Then he had a pity party.

Verse 4, "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, 'It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life for I am no better than my fathers!'"

Poor baby! "It is enough, Lord!" I know just how he feels! Do you? Have you ever been in the throws of battle, exhibit enormous faith, and then fall to your knees in ultimate defeat because of one little fiery dart from the enemy? Okay. Maybe it was a big flaming arrow, but still, the principle is the same. Have you experienced this? Maybe that's where you are right now.

What was God's response to His faithful servant?
God sent an angel to bring him food and water - twice. Now Elijah had the strength to continue on his journey. Elijah was fleeing to Mt. Horeb, which is another name for Mt. Sinai, the mountain of God. Elijah was going to the very place where God had revealed Himself to Moses and the children of Israel. I believe he was desperate for God's comfort.

"And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him..." (verse 9).

The Lord told Elijah to go out and stand on the mountain before Him. And then the Lord displayed His mighty power through a windstorm, an earthquake and a fire. But God was not in any of these as he had been when he revealed himself at various times to Moses and the children of Israel.

No. The scripture says (verse 12) that "after the fire a still small voice." My marginal notes say, "a delicate whispering voice."

"A delicate whispering voice."

God revealed Himself to this broken servant in a delicate whispering voice.

Do you have goosebumps?
El Shaddai revealed Himself to Elijah in gentleness. Why? Because Elijah was discouraged, overwhelmed, battered and bruised. The warrior was a child at this point, a child of God.

Isn't the Lord wonderful?
He affirmed Elijah.
He comforted Elijah.
He restored Elijah.
And He instructed Elijah in the way he should go.

Aren't you amazed at the goodness of God?

Father, I am overcome with love at this moment. Thank You for letting us see this side of You. And thank You for letting us see the frustration and fear of such a powerful man of God as Elijah. It's good to know that even our heroes had bad days and times of discouragement. And it is wonderful to know that You responded to his despondency with tenderness that only a Father could give. You are awesome, Lord. We love and adore You and bless Your Holy Name!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Absolute Treasure of God's Word

"The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

"More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward."
(Psalm 19:7-11)

God's precious Word.
Oh, how we take it for granted!

We have friends who are missionaries to China. They have shared stories of the new Chinese Believers kissing the Bibles that are carefully smuggled in under great danger to the smuggler. Often, a Bible is torn page by page so that everyone gets a piece of God's Word. The underground church members then rotate their pages that are soooo treasured.

Do we treasure God's Word like that?
I KNOW!! That hurts, doesn't it, but God wants us to consider the value of His Word.

God's Law - His Word - is perfect.
His Word restores us, cleanses us, fills us with hope.
His testimony is sure - dependable, constant, strong.
His statutes bring us great joy as they teach us about our Lord.
God's commandments are pure, bringing us insight and understanding of Who He is.
The fear - reverence, worship - of the Lord and His Word is from everlasting to everlasting.
God's Word is priceless.

And God's Word is sweet - sweeter than honey - liquid gold, bringing life to those who partake.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians & Jews, shared something recently on his devotional, Holy Land Moments: "Jews value God's Word. They kiss the Torah (Hebrew Bible) if it falls on the floor, they bury it in a cemetery when it is old and torn, and they always treat the Name and Word of God with awe and respect."

I don't know about you, but his words cut me to the quick.
And they inspired me.

Rabbi Eckstein inspired me to understand the absolute treasure we have in God's Word.
He inspired me to grasp the Holiness of my Bible.
He inspired me to understand that my Bible is the breathed Word of Almighty God.

God has given me His treasure. He has given you His treasure. Praise His Name!

Father, Forgive me for taking Your Word for granted, for taking it lightly. I want this truth to sink into my Spirit and give me understanding of how precious Your Word is. I believe my friends believe the same way. American Christians have it so easy. Our shelves are lined with Bibles because we like to have the latest edition. But Lord, do we treasure them? You have shown me that, no, we do not - at least, I don't. I am so sorry, Lord. Thank You for showing me Your heart and opening my eyes that I could see. I love you, Lord.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Little Word, Big Impact

"The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

"And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; You shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.

"So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them."
(Deuteronomy 28:12-14)

Beloved, we are children of the Most High God - His special treasure, a royal priesthood, sanctified, redeemed and forgiven by the Blood of the Lamb!
Breathe that knowledge in. Let it saturate your spirit with faith, with hope, with peace.

Because we are His children, our INHERITANCE is great, but it is contingent - conditional. This scripture uses the word, IF.

IF you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, are careful to observe them and do not stray to the left or right to go after other gods...

IF you do these things:
The Lord will open the heavens to pour out rain on your land.
The Lord will bless all the work of your hands.
The Lord will make you the lender.
The Lord will make you the head and not the tail.
The Lord will make you be above only, not beneath.

Wow! IF...little word, big impact.

I know what you're thinking and yes, you're right. We are no longer bound by law. Our righteousness is found in Jesus. Praise His Name!

But the Lord still requires an obedient heart. He still expects adherence to His commandments, His instructions, His promptings. He expects our recognition of His authority.

Why do you suppose that is? God's LOVE is unconditional. Nothing we do can earn it. His love is so great for us that we cannot fathom its depths. So, why does He make our inheritance conditional upon our obedience?

Well...I've been thinking. The more we are obedient, the more we are abiding in Him - living within His love, walking hand in hand. He becomes Lord, not just Savior. Our relationship blossoms, becomes accountable - no holds barred, so to speak.

And that is when we begin to learn the essence of Who God is.
That is when we begin to understand, not only who we are in this world, but who we are to Him - His child.

Awesome. Obedience puts us in a position to REALLY know God and places our inheritance at our fingertips.

Breathe that knowledge in. Let it saturate you spirit with faith, with hope, with peace.

Father God, May we never forget that You are El Elyon, the Lord Most High. That knowledge carries with it accountability, but that accountability carries with it wonder and awe because we get to know You like never before. Thank You Lord. We praise You for Who You are. Open the eyes of our heart to understand the importance of obedience if we are to know You as Lord. You are wonderful, Lord. We love and appreciate You.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Calm Down! It's Gonna Be Okay

"Let be and be still, and know - recognize and understand - that I am God."
(Psalm 46:10, Amplified Bible)

I think I just heard a resounding Amen!! Isn't that good? Let's read it again, this time with ZING!

"Let be and be still, and know - recognize and understand - that I am God."

Let be...leave it alone, relinquish it, lay it at the foot of the cross...let be.

Why is that so hard? Why are we so stubborn? Why on earth do we choose to carry burdens that we were never created to carry? Why??

I don't have the answer.
But, I know Someone who does.
His Name is Jesus.
We look at Him and we see God.

The Contemporary English Version
of the Bible says it this way, "Our God says, 'Calm down, and learn that I am God!'"

I have to admit that this one made me laugh. Can't you just hear our Heavenly Father saying that? "Calm down!" How many times have we said those words to our own children or to a loved one? "Calm down. It's gonna be okay."

Our God is so awesome! Look around and see the evidence of His power. Take a minute and remember His faithfulness, the times He provided for you miraculously, the times He filled you with hope when you were engulfed in despair.

And then, let be. Be still. Crawl into your Father's lap and understand that He is God and that if He hung the stars in the sky, surely He can make everything okay for you.

Father, Thank You so much for Your "Daddy" love. It is so comforting to understand the Father-child relationship You have with us. Help us to grasp the power of that Truth...WE are Your children, YOU are our Father and NOTHING is too difficult for You. Teach us to literally be still before You and know that You and You alone are God. Thank You, Lord.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Here's A Nice Necklace!

"Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man."
(Proverbs 3:3,4)

Mercy and Truth.

What comes to mind when you think of mercy and truth? I think of grace and Jesus - grace extended and Jesus revealed.

Mercy, hesed (heh-said) means lovingkindness, to be gracious, compassionate. Micah 7:18 tells us that God delights in mercy. We know that He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).

AND...He lives within us!
Freely you have received, freely give.

And what about truth? The Hebrew word used for truth in this verse is 'emet (eh-met) meaning certainty, rightness, trustworthiness, dependable. It is something upon which a person may CONFIDENTLY stake His life.

I like that.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). He is the embodiment of Truth - of who God is. He reveals that Truth to us.

AND...He lives within us!
Freely you have received, freely give.

This is an interesting little tidbit: "'emet (truth) is spelled with the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Many rabbis have concluded that TRUTH upholds the first and last of God's creation and everything in between" (commentary, The Spirit Filled Life Bible).

Isn't that awesome? Imagine. We are to walk in truth, representing the power of God and His Son, Jesus AND walk in mercy or grace, representing God's love.

That's a tall order.

We are also instructed to bind them around our neck and write them on our heart. Think about that. Mercy and truth are to be seen in action, like an adornment on our physical body. But they are also to be meshed with our deepest thoughts, our inner self, our heartfelt yearnings. Mercy and truth are to govern our behaviors both seen and unseen.

What is the take-away here?
The word, Let.

Mercy and Truth are within us because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We don't have to manufacture them - we only need to LET them.

LET mercy and truth govern our actions.
LET mercy and truth be visible in our lives.
LET mercy and truth, in us, lead others to Christ.

LET God have His way in us. Make Him Lord.

Freely you have received, freely give.

Father, WHEW!! That one was tough. But, you know what, it doesn't have to be, does it? YOU have placed mercy and truth within us. We need only to recognize that and then submit to your authority as You lead us. Open our eyes that we might see. Awaken our hearts to love You more. Praise You, Father.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Been In Any Skirmishes Lately?

"May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; May the Name of the God of Jacob defend you; May He send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion; May He remember all your offerings, and accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah.

"May He grant you according to your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose."
(Psalm 20:1-4)

It is believed that this psalm was a congregational prayer sung just before going to war. (Commentary, The Spirit Filled Life Bible)

I don't know about you, but most days I feel as though I'm going into battle. If nothing else, the enemy and I have several skirmishes during the day. Reading the words to this beautiful prayer reminds me of the importance of praying for one another - of being cognizant that we - as individuals and as the Body of Christ - are engaged in spiritual warfare. We need each other and we need to include the Lord in our battles.

My favorite part of this passage is verse 4: "May He grant you according to your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose."

This makes my heart sing. Imagine the chorus of voices lifting this request before the Father as their brothers prepare for battle. Of course, their heart's desire and purpose as it applies to this passage is victory over their enemies.

But isn't it the same for us?

As we pursue our heart's desires - as we pursue our purposes - we can be sure to encounter the enemy's landmines along the way. BUT!

But, greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.
If God before us, who can be against us?

As we stand before our Lord as One Body, bought by the Blood of the Lamb, clothed in garments of fine linen as the precious Bride of we do this in UNITY and LOVE, praying diligently for one another, we will obtain our hearts' desires and find our purpose. We will walk victoriously against the enemy.

And we will bring Light to a hurting world.

Let's commit to pray for one another more that ever before. If someone's name pops in your head out of the blue, consider it a prompting of the Holy Spirit asking you to pray - right then.

And "may He grant you according to your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose."

Father, You are so wonderful. You are strong in battle and mighty to save. You respond to Your people as they call out to You in need. There is such power in prayer, especially corporate prayer. In fact, You tell us that when two or three of us gather in Your Name, You are there with us. That is an amazing thought. Help us to remember this, Lord. Help us to not take prayer for granted or see it as something else on a list of to-dos. Help us to see the beauty of Your majesty as we approach Your throne of grace. Bless You, Father!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Through Christ...

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
(Philippians 4:13)

As I read this scripture this morning the word "through" leaped off the page! How many times have you, like me, read these powerful words only to think about the things we want to accomplish.

Maybe we need to reconsider our emphasis.
Instead of, "I CAN DO ALL THINGS through Christ who gives me strength" we should read it as, "I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST who gives me strength."

Do you see the difference? THROUGH Christ...Selah.

Know what else I thought of? I thought about a shield. So often when we set about to accomplish the things God asks of us, we encounter spiritual warfare. You know...obstacles, detours, frustrations. "We wrestle not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers of darkness" (Ephesians 6:12). AND...We know that God is a shield about us (Genesis 15:1, 2 Samuel 22:31, Psalm 18:2). So, if God is a shield surrounding us and the enemy does his best to thwart our progress, doesn't it make sense that we can do all things as we stand behind the shield and press forward through its protection?

I know. Get a shovel out, right?

But seriously. I love the thought of being surrounded by the love of God and His protection. Jesus is the embodiment of all that God is. So it makes sense that Jesus is a shield about us. After all, in John 15, Jesus encourages His followers to abide in Him, to live within His love. Surrounded by His shield? Yes, I think so.

I can do all things THROUGH and BECAUSE OF the shield of Christ Who strengthens me. Hmmm...

I absolutely love how The Message interprets Philippians 4:13.
"Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One Who makes me who I am."

Don't you love it? "...I can make it through anything..."

Stand firm behind the shield of faith and press through. With God, nothing is impossible.

Father, You are so awesome. It's not about us, it's about Who is with us...YOU! What a glorious image I see as I consider You as my shield and as I consider us, together, pressing through to accomplishing the plans and purposes of my life. Thank You, Father. Thank You for making me who I am.