Psalm 116:7, "Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you."
In 24 hours I will be in the truck with my husband and we will be traveling down state to a cozy coastal town for some R&R. I am exhausted, tired and he is even more so. The first 31 days of 2008 have been a little on the exciting side around here. You all have been privy to some of it. We were talking this morning about just going down and praying through some things and some decisions that we both feel are weighing on us. We need some breakthrough in some areas and I just have it in my heart that this is the beginning of that.
I just want to remind all of my Martha's that God blesses rest. That your inbox will always be full, there will always be laundry, dishes and floors that need mopped. There will always be the one more thing you need to do before you seek God and before you take time for yourself. Set it all down. Find God, find your peace, find the blessing that he has waiting for you if you will just slow down long enough to receive it.
Isaiah 30:18, "So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion."
How long are you going to let him wait for you? What is more important? What could possibly more important that the blessings, the love and the compassion that He is waiting to give you? I envision him sitting at a romantic table in an upscale restaurant...sitting alone in the candle light anticipating me showing up and I am at home scrubbing my toilet.
"I sleep, but my heart is awake;
It is the voice of my beloved!
He knocks, saying,
“Open for me, my sister, my love,
My dove, my perfect one;
For my head is covered with dew,
My locks with the drops of the night.”
My beloved put his hand
By the latch of the door,
And my heart yearned for him. "
~Song of Solomon 5:2&4
He cries out to us as we slumber with our responsibilities. He waits by the door for our hear to yearn for him. Set it down my sister, my friend and meet the lover of your soul. You will be forever changed.
Lord, thank you for your rest, that you taught us to rest even as you rested. Father, I just pray rest for everyone of my friends as we have all seen so much in the past 31 days of this anointed year. Father, I thank you for them. Lord, this morning I lay anything that distracts me from you at the foot of the cross. There is nothing that I long for more than You. I love you and I will not make you wait for me any longer, I am ready, I am dressed and I want to sit across from you and here you say my name, Beloved. Bless you Father, Son, and Lover of my Soul, in Jesus name. Amen.
We have all been taught that God is love. God =love. Nothing more - nothing less. So if it is our desire to be more and more like Christ, the flesh version of God himself, then we should reflect that love more and more every where we go. I love this chapter. Known as the “Love Chapter”.
As I read through this I am reminded of so many instances of this in my life. When I decided I didn’t want to play patty cake Christianity anymore when my Grandfather passed away 4 years ago, this chapter was a required memorization for the class I was in. I have a picture on the wall in my bedroom that says portions of this verse and even as I sit here on my laptop I can look up and see it. It is a part of me. It is a chapter that I have spent a lot of time meditating on. It is a chapter that I have prayed over my marriage, my children and my home. Through the years God has revealed to me more and more what love actually feels like. I am at the point right now of feeling the most loved that I have ever felt. I am operating in more love than at any other moment in time that I have experienced.
There are still some things that I am struggling with. There are some grace growers in my life that continue to be part of God’s curriculum to teach me patience. There are still times that my defense mechanisms kick in and my first reaction isn’t kindness. It does not envy – which comes into play still in my life. It comes in whether or not I feel as qualified as someone else to be where I am. Because if I don’t think that I am worthy to be there, most times it will manifest into envy. That’s just me, but I think it could apply to anyone. It does not boast – God has blessed me more thank you nah nah nah nah. No one wants to be around someone like that. It is not proud, it encourages, it swells with love but it is not haughty. It is not rude, it takes the time to listen to the concerns of others around them and doesn’t just see their own circumstances. Yeah I could work on that one some more.
It is not self-seeking. It is God-seeking, it is coming to your husband and saying I love you enough to put you first. It is serving when you are tired and ministering when you are sick. It is trusting God to put you in a role of importance and not self-appointing yourself. It is not easily angered. Anger is one of my biggest issues. It is my absolute first line of defense. If I feel anxious I will get mad. Anger has been my body guard for a long time and I continue to allow God to heal me in that area and He continues to teach me that I should be anxious for nothing, he is my defender and my protector. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. We dance at the truth, no matter how much it hurts, we know the Healer and we can be healed if we know the truth. Lies are manipulation and unbelief in someone as to whether or not that they can handle the truth. Think Jack Nicholson, “You can’t handle the truth.”
Yeah I know I skipped one. I know, you aren’t going to let me get away with anything are you? My email box would be full if I left one out. Well the one that gets me is “love keeps no records of wrongs”. My favorite word used to be “again”. I would call my mentor and say, “Again, …” or “….again” and she would say there is that word. You are holding accounts. I can’t tell you how many times she told me to keep short accounts and to profess it before it could grow into something ugly and start to bear fruit. That’s what happens when we keep accounts it starts to grow into roots that take hold of us and change our personalities and our hearts.
This weekend as my husband was finding freedom, as he was breaking down strongholds over our family I was released to hand someone an invoice that I have kept tally on for the entirety of my life. It was a bill that I would bring to the table anytime this person had something to offer. I would remind them of how much they have cost me over the years. This weekend I took that raggedy piece of paper, and I handed it back to her stamped with Paid in Full. There is nothing that she or anyone else in my ledger could do to pay for the pain that I took on by their actions. I set her free and by doing that I set into motion freedom for myself. I repented for my judgments and for my ledger. I broke agreement with the beliefs that I have held onto for all of these years. I feel such freedom, and I pray that this person does as well. As a matter of fact for all of you that are reading this that have a page or chapter in my ledger, know that in blood it says Paid in Full. There is nothing left and I look forward to the next few days, weeks and months as I am able to tell people, you are Paid in Full for me.
I have had to learn to write Paid in Full on all of those accounts. Their totals are too high for the people to pay them. However, Jesus’ blood God’s sacrifice, the life of His Son is enough. See because Love…“always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Then His Blood is enough. And if I get hurt again, I know where to go. I know the Healer. Adding rows to the ledger, adding more costs isn’t going to make me feel better. It just makes my book bigger. I am free of the ledger. I am free from believing that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t enough for my past, for my pain, for my family, for what I have been through. It is priceless and there is no ledger that it can’t cover.
Revelation, 1:5, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.”
Father, I thank you. I humbly come before you and thank you for the work in me. Lord, I have professed that this day would come by faith for years now. Lord, it is only by your stripes, only my your sacrifice that I can have victory. Lord, your blood is so precious to me. Lord I accept the gift that you have freely given to me. Today I chose to be your daughter, to cover not only my sins in the blood but to apply it to the hurts - the consequence of others’ sins in my life. Lord, I apply your blood to the ledger. I toss it into the fire and say that I don’t need it anymore. You are the only treasure that I seek and there is no treasure to be had by holding those accounts. Father I submit to your teaching on this chapter in my life. Lord I pray that you would continue to teach me that you are my defender and my protector and that I don’t have to fight my own battles. Lord, I don’t have to guard myself in anxiety because in you there are none. You are Love, you are filling me with you, and Lord I just puddle in your presence. There isn’t enough of me right now to have shape other than to fill the container that you have made for me. Father, I lay it all down. I trust whole-heartedly what you are doing in my life and the life of my family. All of my chips are on you; I don’t need a plan B. I don’t need an escape route and I don’t need to hold someone else’s feet to my refiner’s fire. I give you all the praise and I say that you alone have the power. I am but a donkey to carry you to your people. Less of me Jesus - more of you. Praise you Father. With every ounce of breath that you have given me I praise you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations." - Psalm 100
WOW!! That's all I really have to offer this morning. I feel like a puddle in the presence of the living God. We had a special church service last night and I don't know if there are words to explain the presence, to explain the freedom, to explain what happened to the dynamics of all of those families that were there.
Forty some men rushed our platform during worship and danced with all their might. They shouted the name of Jesus. They proclaimed to their wives and to their families that they were different men and that they were going to be what God had called them to be. Some called their wives by name with the microphone in their hand. Even now my eyes swell. Even now, I have never experienced the fullness of God like this before. Ever. There was reconciliation. There was a real unity in the families, and that in and of itself was beyond words, but there was a unity in the church house. There was such a spirit of love, of everyone around us. There were men standing with their arms around their wives with their children gathered around them, worshiping. Arms in the air, singing out. I don't have anything to compare it to, in all of my years of church attendance there is no frame of reference for this.
My husband was one of those forty men. MY husband, MY military straight-laced, ain't never raised his arms, it's not my thing husband. He danced. His arms were raised above his head. I can't ever talk about it. This is the beginning of the fulfillment of God's promises to me. Last night... the work he has done in my husband, there is no doubt in my mind that he will fulfill every promise he has ever made to me. God got a hold of my husband. In a very real way. I can't explain...I don't have the ability. I can't explain watching my husband and my oldest son worship side by side, leaping, arms up...worshiping. It breaks something so deep, it stirs up something that I didn't know existed.
"You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you." -Nehemiah 9:6
Father, I can not even comprehend the changes that have happened. I don't have the foresight to see how this is going to impact my life from here on. I just come to you this morning as your daughter, married to your son. I am the mother of your children, my sons, my daughter...to you they all belong. Father, this moment in time...the fullness I feel. The overwhelming sense of your love from me. Lord, I know this sounds so weird, but I know that you love me, because you have heard my crying prayers for them. For him Father. There are just no words. Today I just sit at your feet and cry for joy. I worship, I sing your praises, I have seen the wonders of your love...I am humbled by your presence and your love for me. Lord, knit this in us, knit this in our church, knit this in our community, let it be tattooed on us in a way that others can see. Let our freedom in you, our love for you, let it overflow on everyone that sees us. You are God, and you are good. Who is King? MY KING! All blessings and honor to you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
KJV “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.”
NIV “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
AMP “Thus you will be enriched in all things and in every way, so that you can be generous, and [your generosity as it is] administered by us will bring forth thanksgiving to God.
MSG “He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.”
What a powerful promise of God. I mean really, he is telling us that he who created us, he who holds the world in the palm of his hand, is going to bless us…so that we can bless others…so that he will get the glory. Hmmm, sounds like a win-win to me. God who has everything, owns everything, created everything…God…all knowing, all powerful, the one who decides how much snow we get, decided he was going to bless us so that we could be generous on all occasions. But what exactly does generous mean? When I took it back to the Greek (yeah I know but bear with me here) I came to the word eumetadotos (2130) that simply means ready or free to impart. Ready…Free. Okay to be generous means I have to be ready and I have to be free.
You all know that my husband’s commodity is money and mine is time so as I am reading this verse that is what is going through my mind. In order to be generous with my time I have to be free and ready. In order to be generous with my love it needs to be free and ready (free of past hurts). What ever it is that God is asking of us, what he is giving us is the ability to be free in an area, so that we can bless someone else, so that they too can be free in that area. The light is coming on here. If I am free with my money, and I give it to someone who isn’t free with their money, guess what has just happened, they have become a bit more free and now they can see past their circumstances and see the hand of God in their lives which gets us to the glory thing again. It all goes back to the Moses thing…he had to live in the desert and earn his wilderness survival badge…he had to get free so that he could set the captives free. He had to get past his fear of the Pharaoh so that he could go in to the Pharaoh with boldness and say, “Let my people go”.
Isn’t that what God wants for us? He wants to take us through the hard stuff so that we learn to be bolder - so that we can learn spiritual warfare? So that we can walk right up to Satan and say, “Let my people go.” Let my Daddy go, let my brothers go, let my children go. God wants us to be ready and to be free. He wants to make us rich. Rich in his freedom, rich in his love, free.
John 8:36 tells us, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
How much of this do we really claim for ourselves? He wants to make us rich, ready, and free. Yeap, he does…so much so that he already did the work. It is up to us to show up at the attorney’s office and claim our inheritance. He sent the letter telling us it belonged to us, the Bible is the greatest love letter every written. We have been informed, but are we going to let it rot in a safety deposit box or are we going to march in with boldness and say, this is mine, the lover of my soul said so.
Matthew 25:28-30, “Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
In Matthew 25:29, another spiritual promise is revealed. This is the end of the parable about the talents - the three men - you know the story. Jesus finishes the story in verses 28-30 by saying essentially believers who make good use of what they have will be given more. God gives more money to those who use it for Him; he gives more time, to those who use it for Him. So if I use everything that God has already freely given me, which all belongs to Him that he gives to me in the first place, to bring Him glory guess what happens? I get more. If I use it for myself guess what? I don’t. Pretty simple. Being generous means more blessings, more trust, more commodity, more to give away. The cycle just snowballs.
I know that it is easy to be depressed when we look at the circumstances that we live in. I know that there are times that my husband is just overwhelmed…there are times that I get overwhelmed. Even Jesus asked God to take the cup from him before he went to the cross. Jesus paid the price - the work has been done. He has already decided. His is victorious in all things and if he says that he wants to make us rich in all things who am I to argue. So I get back up, I grab a hold of my cross and I keep walking. Jesus has already led the way. The map has been drawn. There are no questions left to ask…rich, abundance, ready, blessed. That is what He says that we are. I think today I will choose to agree.
Father God, I come to you and say I understand what you are trying to tell me, I pray that you will enable me to give it to others. Lord, I know that I have walked and I continue to be tested with struggles and with carrying my cross and my own burdens. I know that you share my yoke with me and I am sorry for complaining about how hard it is. Lord, I understand that you are doing this for me and not to me. Lord, I am blessed, you have given me more than I could ever deserve after the places and the things the sins that I have committed. It is only by your hand, it is only because of you. You have saved my life. You have separated my sin as far as the east is to the west. You call me clean, holy and righteous. You call me rich. You call me precious. You call me beloved. Lord, I decide wholeheartedly to agree with your word and your promises. I don’t know how Lord, I don’t know how to get past here. I just know that I am not going to run past you. I choose to be free, I choose to be ready, and I chose to be generous in all things. I love you Lord. I give you my life, which you breathed into me. You are my rock and my salvation. You are the truth; you are always faithful, always diligent. I trust you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
2 Corinthians 9:10-11, “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
Those three scriptures hang on my refrigerator. They are the scriptures that we proclaim over our home and over our business. We do not live in fear of tomorrow because we live by faith that God has plans for us, he has plans for our future. It’s funny to think of how far we have come since we have decided to proclaim them for ourselves. It’s not often that I dive into details of my life before I was reacquainted with my God but this is one of those times.
A few years ago, my husband and I filed bankruptcy. Neither one of us are proud of that fact and looking back now what seemed so overwhelming really wasn’t as much as we thought it was. It was a series of horrible decisions that left us in a place that we felt we had no other option. Remember the other day when I was talking about how I realized I was the happiest I have ever been, I can honestly say that was the worst I have ever been. It was a horrible experience; it affected our marriage, our emotions and our mental health. It was a rather long process but when all was said and done, my husband in his wisdom planted us into a church. We were both raised that you can do it all on your own until a crisis and then you get plugged in.
Anyway, a few months passed, I was working full-time; our 3 young children were in day care and/or public school full-time. My husband was going to school and working full-time. There was a lot of full-time going on and there was very little family time. My husband had a burden in his heart from the time that we were married to raise his family here in the mountains of NC. He also had a burden to start or should I say continue the vision of his father to have a family construction company.
Well 5 years ago, we sold what we could, we packed up everything we had and we moved here to NC. We moved into a camper. Now, I know you are thinking trailer, I am telling you this was a haul it behind your truck RV camper that wasn’t big enough to sleep our entire family. We put everything we owned in storage and lived in this RV in my in-laws yard. For 3 months we lived in that camper that wasn’t big enough for all of us. Our children would take turns sleeping in the main house where it was warm and they were close to the bathroom.
God had a plan for us. I know that now. After three months in the camper the church that we were attending offered to let us live in a house that they owned for $200 a month. It was all that we could do to afford that. My husband had taken a job making $8 an hour, and I was waiting tables. We were in a bad way. We knew there was more for us we just knew it. We just had to line ourselves up for what God had for us.
We started attending a different church, we found friends, started getting involved. It was almost 10 months after our move here that we were driving home from church to our little house that my husband looked at me and asked me if I would still love him if he quit his job and started this business that he knew that God had been building in his heart. Very unlike my husband he never went back to that job. He started making flyers and he started talking to people. The first job he did was raking a woman’s leaves. I don’t remember what he made, but he was doing his own thing and that was just the leap of faith that God needed to get involved and start to move in our life.
I sat here last night looking at my desk; we are closing on our third investment property tomorrow. We own our own home, the house next to us, we are building a log home about 40 minutes north of here and today we close on the adjoining lot. There are times that I look up at the heavens and just wonder how did we get here from there. There is only one answer. There is only one possibility.
I was telling my oldest son last night, there are so many times that we wonder how we are going to get through, and yet somehow, it always happens. The extravagance of God’s provision for my family is overwhelming, not the responsibility of it, but that God loves us enough to believe in us in a way that only He can. Our parents still doubt a lot of what is happening to us. The still are expecting the gauntlet to fall and for us to end up homeless and destitute. Even if we do, we trust that is God’s will for our lives. Do we have it all figured out? By no means, there are times monthly that my husband will look at me and say it’s going to take a miracle. It usually does and so far, God has met us abundantly every time.
The thing that God has really been sharing with me lately is that line from Field of Dreams, that Kevin Costner baseball movie. Where it says “Build it and they will come.” That is really what we are doing with our business this year. We are stepping out in arenas that we have never stepped in before but the awesomeness of God is that there are contacts and connections there that we never could have imagined. Every new door that opens we are greeted with familiar faces on the other side. God has put a lot of time and energy into the success of this plan and sometimes it seems daunting and sometimes we are waiting on the “immediately” God. He is faithful, he is with us and it is our prayer that he will continue to be.
That scripture in 2 Corinthians that I referred to before - I honestly believe that this is our testimony. There are people that will remember when we didn’t have a dime to our name. When we were so broke we couldn’t afford to pay attention. My husband has always been generous, but now he is even more so. We are faithful tithers, we give 10% of everything that we have. Some weeks it’s nothing, some weeks it’s a vast amount but we are diligent. God is diligent. Just three weeks ago, as I sat to open my Bible a $100 bill fell out. I have no idea who put it there. I thank them who ever it was. I know that it was God, and I honor the obedience of the person that he used.
We through our generosity will affect others. We will be able to change lives, we will be able to help young couples buy their first home, we will be able to provide a living for the men and women that work for this God birthed vision. We will be able to fund mission trips and help people get their educations. We will be able to do things that we only ever dreamed of because it isn’t our heart to build all of this for ourselves, but to be able to give out of it generously.
I look forward to writing large checks to our church, I look forward to being able to stick a $100 bill in someone’s Bible and being able to send an anonymous card at Christmas to a family that I know is in need. But even as I write that sentence God tells me that I can be generous on all occasions because he has made me rich in all things. Whether it’s my time, my home, my love, or my arms.
Deuteronomy 15:10, " Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to."
Lord, I just sit here and cry at your provision. Lord, my marriage is prosperous, my children are prosperous, our business, our lives…all prosperous not because of anything that we have done but solely out of your grace and mercy. Lord, I love you in a new way. We are living by faith day in and day out and you are honoring that. Lord, it is our hearts desire to learn your ways of righteousness. Lord, it is our desire to learn more of you, to teach your ways to our children, to share with them your plan to do them good and not harm all the days of their lives. Lord, we pray ahead for this plan that you have for our lives. We pray that you will continue to guide us and to teach us. Lord, that you will continue to make those divine connections Lord that enable us to do your work and live your will. Lord, I thank you for the faith that you are growing in my husband. Lord, that as he watches this he sees your hand and tells others of it. Just makes me smile to think of it. Oh Lord why do we ever doubt you and your love for us and our lives? I thank you Daddy, for your love, your provision, your grace and your mercy. Lord, continue to use us to bring glory to your throne. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Trust. Blessed is the man that trusts in the Lord. Blessed, trust…blessed…trust, blessed = trust. If I want to be blessed, I must trust in the Lord. Ever feel like you have had one of those Eureka moments? Trust in the Lord and you will be blessed.
So what is the difference between trust and faith? Faith is an expectation of hope; trust is I know that I know that I know. So even when I am dying, even when I think that God has taken His hand off me…I must TRUST that he isn’t going to leave me or forsake me? Whoa now, that seems pretty easy, but it is the hardest things that we much do as disciples of the Way of Christ.
Psalm 119:30-32, “I have chosen the way of the truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.”
Satan’s key to our demise is to teach us to not trust the people that God has put around us to protect us. Eve didn’t trust God and she didn’t trust Adam. If she did she wouldn’t have offered him the apple. She trusted Satan more than she trusted her authorities - why is that? Here was the God that created her, and the man that gave a rib for her to be here and yet a snake comes along and she takes the bait. He created doubt in her mind that her authorities were being honest with her and instead of looking at him and saying, “Silly Snake, my God and my husband would never lie to me, she ate the apple and then fed it to her husband.” Neither Adam nor Eve trusted in God and they found out real quick like that if you aren’t being blessed because you trust, you are being cursed because you didn’t.
2 Samuel 22:3, “The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.”
David trusted the Lord in all things. Called the Man after God’s own heart, David often cried out his trust for God. But if you notice, David is almost reassuring himself. “In Him I will trust”. Sounds like a decision to me. One that maybe David would have to make again and again.
Psalm 7:1, “O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:”
Psalm 16:1, “Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.”
Psalms 18:2, “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”
Psalms 25:2, “O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.”
David decided numerous times that he was going to trust in the Lord. These are just a few examples but in their context they are usually in a place of struggle. It is easy to trust God when everything is good. When there is money in the bank, when there is food on the table and our children are behaving. Are we enough like Job to keep up the fight or are we going to be like Eve and take the bait?
Job 13:15, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”
Job says, even if he comes down to him killing me, I am not going to change my ways; I am going to trust God. Job had lost everything, children, land, monies, everything that we would use to define him as a success. Satan touched it all. Yet Job would not be deterred. His wife begged him to turn his back on God and yet he wouldn’t. How different Job was from Adam.
So if we don’t trust the authorities that God set in place whom do we trust? Ourselves?
2 Corinthians 1:9, “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:”
God is the one that has delivered us, let us not forget that not only did he deliver us from death but also he created us in the first place. He is the author and the finisher the beginning and the end. The Alpha and the Omega, the Lion and the Lamb.
1 Corinthians 13 reminds us, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
We don’t even know the purpose for anything that God does in our lives. We know that he created us to have relationship with us. We know that he has promised to do us good and not evil all the days of our lives. But he reveals to us only a thread in the quilt of his plan. We don’t know about the threads near us, or the pieces that he will attach us to. We have no idea what it will look like in the end except to know that he wins. That much we know. He is the victor and how could he not be when he determined the end from the beginning. How can we trust what we think to be reality?
There is a stark difference between truth and reality. The truth is what His word says. Reality is the small sliver that we see. We think that our whole lives are going to come to an end over our debts, over our children’s wrong choices, over what we have to pay for taxes, or gas or a gallon of milk. We struggle with everyday small things…I am beginning to see that those are the things that Satan uses to keep my eyes off the truth. Watching the news or reading the paper could convince you that there is no God. That there are no more miracles, that there is nothing good happening. That God has taken his hands off of our country, our land and his people. But I KNOW that isn’t the truth. If I watch those things it is hard to keep my faith and to put it in the truth of God’s word. God is still a God of miracles, He is still a God of suddenly’s and He is capable of changing my reality with His truth in a matter of moments.
Lord, I trust you. In the big things an in the small things I trust you. Lord, I trust that you are my rock, my redeemer. I trust that my time here on earth is just a vapor and the things that distract me from sharing your love and your mission with others around me are all for nothing. Lord, I trust that you want me to have good healthy relationships, Lord I trust that you hear my prayers and that you know the burdens of my heart. Lord, your provision is all that I know. There is nothing that comes to me that doesn’t cross your desk first. There is nothing that I see that you haven’t created. Lord, I repent of thinking that I could trust my self and my own instincts more that I can trust you and the plan that you have for my life. Lord, there are times that I want to throw in the towel and not trust those that you have put into my life as authorities. Lord, today I chose AGAIN to trust you and to trust them. Lord, if there is anything that I need to be doing that I am not doing I pray that you will reveal it to me. Lord, I commit my life to you. I am tired of living my life for myself, it holds no value to me in that way anymore. My life only matters if I am working for you and doing what you have entrusted me to do. I trust you unto death. I trust you in my marriage, in my finances, in my future and in the future of my children. I trust you that your word does not return to you void and even though I can’t see for the darkness, your plans for me will come to fruition. I trust you even in that Lord. Lord, thank you for your love, your nail scarred hands, thank you for your provision and for your Holy Spirit. I trust you, today again, I chose as an act of my free will to trust you. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.
I don’t know about you but the greatest search of my life is for consistent peace. A life that resounds with peace that not only keeps me but overflows onto others. I would love to have a calming effect on people because my faith is so strong that I live by faith and not by anxiety. I would love to have a peace that passes all understanding 365 days a year for the rest of my journey here on earth. I have glimpses of peace. A few weeks ago I was in my truck driving and it hit me. I am happier and more peaceful right now than I have ever been in my life. Just kind of hit me out of the blue. Are my circumstances any less stressful? No, probably not. Am I in crisis right now? Well it depends on whom you ask and how you define crisis. Could I look around and see crisis, absolutely, so what is different now than before?
Philippians 4:12-13, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned to secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
How do we find that place that Paul describes? Don’t you wish he would just write it out in a way that gave details? I know that as I have sought my own healing, as I have found God’s love and mercy for me in those hard places I am not as worried by them as I once used to be. I know that for the past few months my husband and I have been visiting some places of need that we have traveled before. This time though it is much different in the fact that our faith is much stronger, we know that God brought us through it stronger last time and we put faith in the fact that he will do it again. God has healed us of a lot of our anxieties.
When you walk into a place for the first time, there tends to be some anxiety. Last semester I took this class and the hype for weeks before hand was that it was going to be a hard class. We all walked in with anxiety and fear. Some of us got past it and continued with the class growing more comfortable at every meeting. Some were so overwhelmed by the anxiety in the beginning that they never came back. This semester though as I continue with this class there seems to be a new peace. There is much less anxiety because some of us have paved the way for the others. We know that there is nothing to be afraid of and we can reflect that for the others around us. I believe that is the lesson that my husband and I are learning right now. We have walked this path before. We know what to look for along the way. Kind of like when we travel to Florida we know all the best exits, the cleanest restrooms and our favorite places to get fuel. We have made the trip before and we know what to expect.
That is how God is our guide; Moses had to live in the desert for 40 years with his wife and father-in-law before he could be the deliverer of his people. God takes us through it and teaches us the way so that we can lead others and reflect his glory. People know us well enough to know that we couldn’t get through this on our own and then they are left with no choice but to believe that God is our provider and that he sustains and blesses us.
The peace comes in the understanding that God never leaves us. No matter what the circumstances are. There are have been some awful places that I have taken the God that is with me. He has watched me do some things that I would take back now out of love for him that I never would have done if I had known of the fullness of his love at the time. However, I believe that he guided me even in those times.
Much like Job, he allowed me to experience some stuff so that I could help others. So that my heart would break when I see others walking the path of pain that I once skipped down. I can get past my own hurts and see the hurts of others around me. I have heard it said a thousand times, God doesn’t take you to it, without taking you through it. I am living proof of that. I don’t deserve to be here, I don’t deserve by any means this life that he has provided for me. There is nothing that I could do to justify his blessings and his provision in my life. It is all by his hand that I am even here. That I am alive and well is his doing. My home was a gift, my family a gift, all sugar coated in grace. His grace and his mercy for my life are so profound, that when I sit here and think about it I can’t help but know that he is with me, and that he has forgiven me and has lead me on this path to healing.
Psalm 138, “I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. May all the kings of the earth praise you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth. May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great. Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the work of your hands.”
Father God, I thank you for the hard places. I thank you for the trust that you have in me. Lord, I know that it is in those rough places that you heal me, it is in those rough places that there is so much less of me and so much more of you. Father your love for me is overwhelming your provision is without measure. Lord, I thank you for reviving me, on a consistent day-by-day basis. Your word says that your grace and mercy is new every morning. Lord, every day I get a new chance to be what you have for me. Thank you for guiding me. Thank you that I am never alone, even when I would want to hide from you. You have never left me and you have never forsaken me. Lord, you have healed me in so many areas; I pray that you continue to guide me in a way that brings glory to you Lord. You created me for such a time as this and it is my hearts desire to bring your peace and your presence with me everywhere I go. Lord, my passion for you grows more and more with every passing hour. I trust you with this life that you created for me. I trust the authorities that you have established for me. I willingly submit to your divine purpose for my life. I love you, giving you all the glory and the praise for every success that I have. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him."This is it. This is our whole purpose in a but a few short sentences. We want it to be difficult, we debate theology, denominations, traditions, but this is it. The truth of the matter and what sets us apart from people whom haven't accepted Christ Jesus as their Savior.
- blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms - Notice the word EVERY in this phrase.
- we are united with Christ
- Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us - Before the Bible began, when he separated the ions and made it time, he loved us and chose us.
- without fault in his eyes - No matter what we do as long as we repent and seek his forgiveness. He knows that Satan made us a fallen people, he doesn't blame us and he doesn't hate us.
- decided in advance to adopt us into his own family - We are apart of the family of God
- bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ - we are with him, he brought us to himself through his Son.
- This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
- purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son - we are paid for in full, we aren't on layaway and we weren't put on credit. We are bought by the blood and belong to him.
- forgave our sins - All of them.
- He has showered his kindness on us - and continues to every morning that we wake up and take another breath.
- He has showered us with all wisdom and understanding - He has given us the Word, will we take the time to read it?
- God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan - Everyone walks around to us saying, I don't know what to do, I hope God has a plan....not only does he have a plan he has revealed it to us if we will be still long enough, and be there long enough to listen.
- he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth - UNITY the end of strife, oh how I look forward to those days.
- we are united with Christ - There is that word again, united.
- we have received an inheritance from God - The Spirit is our inheritance, if invested correctly it can grow exponentially
- he chose us in advance - We weren't the last ones picked on the sidelines of a school yard game. He picked us before we even volunteered to play
- he makes everything work out according to his plan - Praise God. I love the word EVERYTHING in this sentence.
- he identified you as his own - We are discernible in a crowd because he has IDed us as his own.
- giving you the Holy Spirit - We have a comforter and a teacher that is with us at all times
That is still Satan's plan. This passage in Ephesians clearly states God's plan and that it has been revealed. It tells us we are loved, unified in Christ, belong to him. Yet in our minds, where Satan can convince us otherwise we doubt all of it to be true. We can't have faith in the Word because we don't have faith in ourselves. There was a saying that we used to say in our church in Florida, "The Bible says it and I believe it". Well if this is what the Bible says, why are we so busy beating ourselves up? God says his payment is enough who are we to say otherwise?
“Open up, O heavens,
and pour out your righteousness.
Let the earth open wide
so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together.
I, the Lord, created them.
“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
‘How clumsy can you be?’
How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father,
‘Why was I born?’
or if it said to its mother,
‘Why did you make me this way?’” ~Isaiah 45:8-10 (NLT)
Father God, I repent this morning for thinking that I had more authority than you when it came to myself. You have chosen me and I have for the entirety of my life lived as if I decided to choose you - accepting only part of the truth that you have laid out before me. Father, today I come to you and say that I am your creation, yes, but I am your daughter that choses this day to live in the unity that you have created for our relationship. I no longer separate myself from you with my own thoughts of inferiority. I will no longer allow Satan to convince me that I am anything but the apple of my Father's eye. I am not worthless, I am paid in full. The price was high, the cost can't be calculated. Who am I to take what is priceless and deem it not worthy. Father, the all loving, all knowing Father, you sit at the head of the table and ask me to partake of your feast. You don't hold anything back for yourself, everything that sits on this table belongs to me. You have given me every blessing. For so long I have longed for you to pick me up, Daddy this morning I feel your arms around me. I thank you for your love and your kindness. You are everything that I will ever need. Thank you, I love you with all of my being. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.
Taking our thoughts captive isn't enough, knowing God's will isn't enough. Lord, it seems overwhelming to get that far in the process. However, it is still not complete. The completeness would be to see God's will working and being fulfilled in our lives. So what is the next step. What is the next thing that we need to do in the process to keep moving forward. We have the revelation but what do we do with it.
2 Corinthians 2:10, "For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory."
Amen. This Hebrew word means firm, and hence also faithful . It is frequently used by our Savior to give emphasis to his words, where it is translated "verily." Sometimes, only, however, in John's Gospel, it is repeated, "Verily, verily." It is found singly and sometimes doubly at the end of prayers , to confirm the words and invoke the fulfillment of them. It is used in token of being bound by an oath . In the primitive churches it was common for the general audience to say "Amen" at the close of the prayer. The promises of God are Amen; i.e., they are all true and sure (2 Cor. 1:20).
My favorite instance of this in the Bible is Mary in Luke. The Angel comes to her and says "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." The Angel tells Mary of God's plan for her life. Have you ever noticed how she responded.
Luke 1:38, "Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
Mary looked at the Angel of God and said Amen. She said a resounding Yes that changed the earth and man's destiny for eternity. She asked one question for clarification, then said you know God is good and I trust His will. Here I am Lord, send me. Yes.
What is God saying to you that you think you aren't ready for? What has he planted as a desire and a revelation in your life that you are even afraid to share with your spouse? What is that desire that is so deep in there, that you know would change your life forever and forever change your destiny. How are you limiting God by not saying Yes? Your health, your sin, your issues? Don't you realize that this is what he wants for us. That those scary desires are the ones planted by Him because we could never come up with anything so out of the box by ourselves.
So here is mine, I am going to share it. I want to go to Africa. I have watched Oprah and seen the children on the boats, the little boys younger than my own sons. I have talked to a friend from South Africa that has stories to make your toes curl. There are children, small children starting at ages 4-5 being sold into slavery and being taught to be killers. There are witch doctors that tell men infected with AIDS that if they have sex with virgins it will cure them. They are having sex with babies. Four out of every five women in Africa have been raped. Here is a link sent to me by a friend on the matter. For years I have said we have orphanages here, we need to take care of our own children here in America and I still believe that, but there are children all over the world that need our help.
Lord, I thank you for your passions that you plant within us. Lord this morning I say yes to the way out of the box things that you have planted within me. Lord the things that I know didn't come from me because they are beyond my reasoning. Lord I come to you and say AMEN. Let it be done. Let your glory fall here in my life and in the world because you hear a resounding yes from your children. Father I love you and I give you all that I have, all of me, everything that you have given me I give back to you. In Jesus name I pray. VERILY VERILY AMEN and AMEN.
I was at the Winter Jam last night in Johnson City, TN. A good few thousand people were in the Freedom Hall. The music was powerful and the preaching was effective but more than that God was there in our presence. We saw 290 people give first time decisions to the Lord. As I looked around there were young and old standing up. Kids and their mothers. What a powerful moment. God is still setting people free. God is still in the "freedom" business. There were men with their arms raised above their heads, there were young ladies praising with all of their hearts. Freedom comes in the power of God.
My son recently got a faux hawk, now I know some of you are thinking OH MY. Well let me tell you what has happened. We were at dinner the first night and I told my son that having a haircut like that would draw attention to himself and that in order to keep the haircut that he had to show a greater display of character and integrity. My son is a good kid, he loses privileges over silly things like forgetting to brush his teeth, not for being disrespectful or getting out of line. I want him to have to freedom to express himself in a way that he is comfortable with. He and I have been talking about stepping out of the box. Stop being like everyone else and be yourself. The Barlow Girls played last night and they have a t-shirt that I love that says, "Be a voice, not an echo". That's what I am trying to teach him. Yes are there others out there with his hairstyle. But it's a little out of the box, it's a stretch for me and my husband and I think that my son can handle it. By the way, its just hair and if it becomes a problem we can cut it off.
It gives him a sense of confidence to be a little on the edge. So get this, my thinking is, that if I can get him comfortable being the center of attention, if I can get him comfortable living just on the edge all the time, that when it comes time for him to live out his calling then he will be prepared. Being a homeschool mom I tend to be a little overprotective. I am finding with him that it's time to give him a little more space, a little more encouragement, teaching him to make sound decisions and helping him through this transition. I couldn't do this with him at 10, but now at way too close to 13 I am enjoying him in a whole new light. I want my son to be sold out for Jesus, I want him to be a radical disciple, I want his gift of evangelism to grow and be what people see when they look at him. Most of all I want him to know the love of Christ and live his life in Freedom. Knowing that Christ died so that he doesn't have to live in shackles of condemnation and guilt. True Freedom that comes from Christ.
So often we let our friends decide how level of passion. Well I am not going to raise my hands because they might think I am weird, I can't jump like that what are the people behind me going to think. SO WHAT?! Are you out to please the people behind you or are you out to please the God of the Universe? I see it with the youth, but not nearly as much as I do in the adult service. We have lost the ability to love God, to really love God with a reckless abandon that you can do as a child or a youth. As we get older we get jaded, we lose hope because we get so focused on reality. The reality of it is, that your reality would be a whole lot easier to deal with if you could find that reckless abandonment to love Christ with all of your being. If we could take our eyes off of our circumstances, our relationships, our checkbooks, our health, our "issues" long enough to look at the throne they would all seem to be so insignificant. I love it when my circumstances seem insignificant. That is what they are talking about when they mention the "peace that passes all understanding". Oh to live in that place everyday, every moment.
Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
I love that verse, Do not let yourselves. As if to remind us, your biggest enemy is yourself. We let our minds keep us captive. When we don't take our thoughts captive, then our thoughts can and will take us captive. It's the process, minute by minute, hour by hour. We are our worst enemy, we look around us to see who Satan is using to torment us in our lives but often the one he uses the most is the one we can only see in the mirror.
John 8:36, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
Are you a daughter of the risen King, have you prayed the prayer of salvation? Do you believe that the wages of sin is death, and that Christ died on the cross for you? Do you have faith in his ability to pay your debt that you can't even tally? Then DO NOT LET YOURSELF be burdened AGAIN with the condemnation. You are FREE in Christ. FREE. Not partially free, not only free on Sunday mornings during corporate worship, 24/7 Free. When we can get that, when we can get that Christ loves us, LOVES us, adores us, calls us precious, anointed, called, set apart, when we can get that, we will lay down everything that we hold so dear and walk in the Freedom that He died for.
Dear Father, this morning I come to you physically tired but spiritually renewed. Lord, I feel so humbled to be reminded that you are still setting people free. Lord, it is my prayer that we all would understand what that means and that we don't live in that yoke of slavery anymore. Precious Jesus, we thank you for your life, your nail scared hands, your blood that set us free. Today we decide to quit living like it was worthless, it is priceless and there is nothing that we can do to separate ourselves from the love that you have for us. Your love is more than we can comprehend, more than we can fathom and I thank you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for your love. Father I thank you for creating me, Jesus I thank you for saving me, ME, from my penalty of death, from my burden, from my yoke. The price you paid, I am not worthy, but in you I am. Holy Spirit thank you for your teaching and your comfort. Your voice keeps me. You keep me from trouble, and I thank you for your constant guidance. Your hand on my life. The love you have placed in my heart. I am in awe of you this morning. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Many times there is something that God is asking of us that we wish we could get someone else to do for us. We know it's going to be an uphill climb and our faith may not be exactly where God would want it to be, and Tada we are saying, Oh Lord, please send someone else. It essentially says, God I can't.
What I love is that this is Moses. God's chosen mouthpiece. The man appointed to deliver the people, the Deliverer. Moses stuttered. Moses knew he stuttered. So the Lord made PROVISION for Moses weakness in a way that Moses could understand. I firmly believe that God could have made Moses' stutter go away and used him. I believe that was God's perfect will for Moses, but Moses called out for mercy and God said, okay, then your brother Aaron will do it.
Exodus 4:14-16, "Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him."
The Lord's anger burned at Moses, but why? In this instance it was a lack of faith. But Look what the Lord says about Moses.
Deuteronomy 12:7, "But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house."
But where was Moses faith in the beginning? Why didn't Moses believe that God could heal him? He didn't know God well enough in the beginning. As Moses began to "Be there" with God. As he met with him on the Mount, as he conversed with Him. His faith began to increase. He practiced his faith with God. He hadn't seen God separate the Red Sea at this point. That doesn't happen until 10 chapters later.But he has seen the burning bush. So he has some experience with God. God had given him the staff, shown his his healing power and yet still Moses said, Lord, I am slow to speech please send someone else.
How many times have we done that ourselves. God has given us everything that we need to accomplish his will and yet we say, Lord, I am not ready. Who decides if we are ready? Who created time to begin with. The Lord is quick. He is not a man of haste. He created everything around us in 6 days. 6 Days isn't a very long time when you think about it. And I know some of you probably don't believe that it was 6 days like our 6 days....but that's what I believe. If you can't believe the first book of the Bible how are you going to believe the rest of it? Anyway, that is way off topic.
I have been struggling with God telling me things and me thinking that I am disqualified. I struggled with the fact that I was a smoker and that smokers couldn't be ministers, (God has delivered me from myself and my own weakness). Then God hit me with, what's the difference between caffeine and nicotine. They are both addictive and you put both of them before me. You have to have your coffee in the morning before you can come see me, much like you used to have to have that cigarette before you could make that pot of coffee. So I have given up my morning Joe and have been fasting caffeine. As I write this I am drinking a cup of decaf Joe that I made about 20 minutes ago. I prayed first this morning and already knew my scriptures before I broke away to make the pot.
So many times we struggle with our flesh and convince ourselves that surely God can't use me. I can't even walk away from __________, I am still addicted to ______________, but you know what. God used Moses, wanted to use Moses, even made provision for his weakness and he will you and I too. I hid my addictions for a long time. Probably not very well and I probably wasn't fooling anyone along the way. But as I started to say to my leaders, I am struggling with this, I found a new grace for myself. Quitting smoking wasn't easy, but after the first 24 hours, when I realized I hadn't died I was able to quit wanting one. I have friends and family that smoke and at this point I can honestly say that it doesn't appeal to me at all. But that came in me trusting God enough to deliver me from it. From me laying at the cross and saying Lord, I know that you are requiring this of me. Here you go. It has been the same with caffeine. I was supposed to have this excruciating headaches, I read all up on withdrawal symptoms and let me tell you, I have had not one. Why? Is it some great miracle, to me it is. As I was laying in bed last night I said to my husband, "I have given up nicotine and caffeine and I am not dead."
So this is for all of my friends that are struggling right now. I am not throwing any quilt or condemnation your way. I am saying, that it is possible. That God can meet you in that place and deliver you from those things that keep you from jumping over the cliff for him because you don't think you are worthy. I don't care what it is, he has a provision. He has a plan. Stop beating yourself up about it, give it to Him and let Him handle it for you.
Lord, I pray that as we continue to walk on this journey, as we continue to learn to count on you that you will remind us of your provision and of your grace. Lord, there is nothing that you require of us that you didn't plan for. Even knowing that Jesus was going to have to come for our sins. You are a God of provision. There is no way to fail because you have already designed the fail safe plan. Lord, I love you and I honor your for your foresight into my being. That you know me and love me enough to provide for me everything I need to grow in you. Thank you Lord, I bless you and I honor you for all that you do. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.
What is our duty? What is required of us whether we want to do it or not...I think that there are an abundance of things that are our duty, whether we decide to do them or not is another matter.
I believe that it is my duty to seek God with all that I have. I have a passion and a unending desire to learn more of the Word. I spend as much time as I can reading the Bible, reading study guides, anything that will open the Word up to me in a real way. I believe that is what God would want for all of us. To be so hungry for his Word that we can walk away from anything else that might distract us.
How then can you have faith if you aren't in the Word. If your study is touch and go will not your faith be the same? Do you have a deep well of word upon to draw your faith, or are you a seeker for the answer for today only. Do you only seek God when you are in crisis or are you reaching for the hem of his garment even when you aren't bleeding.
Colossians 3:16-17, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Whatever you do. Whatever you do, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. So that on the days when you don't "want" to seek the Word, it is in there in an overflow and it can sustain you. Much like our bodies store fat. Don't go to the extreme of not doing anything else, but take time, make time to have study with the Lord.
I have read a lot about the Cross and the experience from Jesus' point of view, and I know that the one thing that I can do is worship Him for his actions, and God for his creation. So many times I stand in church around people who have a deer in the headlights look when it comes to worship. There are times that we worship out of duty and not out of our hearts.
Hebrews 13:15, "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name."
It's not a sacrifice if it doesn't hurt. It's not a sacrifice if it isn't something that belongs to you.
2 Samuel 24:24, "But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."
There are many times that I walk into the church and I am physically tired. There are times that I walk in to that church that my emotions are all out of whack, there are times that I walk into that church full of anger and pride. The only thing that can and will change that for me is to worship. Not for how I am feeling, or how I am doing. But for the things he has already done for me. The times that He has met me before, in anticipation of the times that He is going to meet me again. It is a sacrifice because my exhaustion belongs to me, my preferences belong to me, my style of music, the length of worship. That all belongs to me. Would I do it like they do it? Probably not, that's why I am on the floor and they are on the platform.
I have a life of duty. The To-Do list sometimes are overwhelming, the time constraints, the friends that I need to call, the nap I really need to take. The errands, the groceries, the meals, dishes, laundry...the list goes on. At this point I am crossing things off my list at an alarming rate. Things that I used to think I "had" to do, now don't seem so important. Things that were stealing my time from me, they have to go. Things that I was doing just to impress someone else or just to qualify myself...they have to go as well.
2008 is the year that I keep God first. That I spend time in his Word everyday and not just when I have time. I am no longer going to be a people pleaser but a God pleaser. I don't do it to hurt feelings but so that I can walk in the correct duties that God has given me. This is a year for me to Shut Up and Show Up. This is the year that I don't give people my opinion but lead them to the Word and let them find the nugget of truth for themselves. This is the year that I bring people to Christ and not to myself. This is the year that I lay my desires at the Cross and ask God to burn any of them that are not His. This is the year.
Lord, I thank you for the clear vision that you have given me this morning. I know for the last few weeks I have done a lot of murmuring about the desert, I have let my mouth dictate my future and Lord today I shut up. I just want to seek after you. I know that you are there, I just miss our intimacy. Lord, I do it out of duty even when I can't do it out of my heart. My heart is broken in so many areas. So many things have brought me to my knees recently. I know that you have a role in that and I thank you for breaking off some of that old stuff that has kept me held back for so long. Lord, I give you me. All of me. The broken, crying, tired, lonely me. The one that needs you. I cry out to you again this morning and say Daddy Pick Me UP! Praise you Lord, I will praise you in this storm. I will step out of the boat, I will walk towards you despite the winds and the rain. Lord, I am coming after you, I am reaching for you. I know that you hear my voice and I thank you for your recognition of me. Thank you Lord, thank you for knowing my name. Thank you for loving me, for finding me and for planting such a huge desire for you in my heart. I love you. I am in love with you. You are the lover of my soul. In Jesus name. Amen.
Now, all of the things that keep you from Christ, from God. No matter what they are...resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness (of yourself and others), pride, ungodly beliefs, sin. All of the things that cause you tension, the things you don't share with anyone because they hurt, they sting and if you dwell on them too long they could kill you. The thoughts that haunt you when you least expect it can take you back to a place that at one point brought you happiness and now only brings condemnation. We all have them. The things that can take us from here back to there in 1.2 seconds. Those thoughts, yeah, throw them in the box.
All of it. Don't hold on to any of it. I know that you are comfortable with it. You have let it define you for years, it's your security. If you give it up you could get hurt, yeah I know. I understand I do. Put it in there. All of the thoughts, "I am not good enough", "I will never be enough", put those in there. All of your hurts, all of your hurts, all of your senses of security that aren't of God Himself, put them in the box.
Now I want you to imagine Jesus on the cross. He is bleeding, he has on the crown of thorns. He is naked, we like to think he had something covering his virgin genitals, but he didn't. He was naked, beaten, flogged. Covered in dirt, covered in his own blood. He was unrecognizable. There is a sign over his head that says, "King of the Jews". He has nails, through his hands, his feet are crossed and nailed to the post. There is nothing else holding him there. He is dangling by the nails. There is no little block under his feet, yes we like to think that there was something for him to stand on but it wasn't there. He is hanging on the cross.
I want you to walk up and put the box at the foot of the cross. Where it has been sunk into the ground. Can you look at his face? Can you see his anguish? Can you see the tears that stream his face? Can you see the tears mixed with the blood?
His blood is flowing from his body, it is filling the box. It is covering all of those entitlements, all of those feelings of pity. He is pouring himself out for you. He chose this, just for you. Just to fill your box of concerns and things that keep you from Him. And if it wasn't enough for him to hang there alive on the cross, when he died the centurion pierced his side and the rest of his body fluids and more blood came rushing down to cover that box.
John 19:31-37, "It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe. These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and “They will look on the one they pierced.”
1 John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."
We are purified from all sin. Not some sin, not just past sin, ALL sin. All that I will commit for the rest of my life. ALL. Whether I did it as a believer or a non-believer it is an ALL. If I think that some is covered and some is not than it's no different that me looking up at the face of Jesus on the cross and tell Him "It isn't enough". "Your sacrifice may be good for some, but you know what I have done and it's not enough for me".
Lord, even as I write this I know that my own box is full. There are things that I have held onto for comfort, because they are all I have ever known. Lord, I want to move forward and I know that I can't do that if I can still trip over the feels and the condemnation from my past. Lord, I thank you for your prepaid forgiveness and I take this moment to thank you with a passion and a love that I didn't know that I could feel. How many times I have made your sacrifice seem so insignificant. How many times I have had it my own way instead of investing in you, taking the payment that you have paid for my and living in victory. Lord, you are my breath, my hope, my salvation and my hope. The price has been paid, Lord I pray that I will begin to see that in every moment in every instance. Lord, save me from myself. I pray all of this in the name of your son. Amen.
Paul is among a class of his own when it comes to the New Testament. Here is a man that persecuted Christians. In Acts 22 he says of himself, "I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.". In this passage he is talking about the martyrdom on Stephen. Paul was what I would call passionate. By today's standards we would consider him an extremist. Think about what the FOX News would report on Paul in today's time. "Leader Arrested After Speaking Out Against Synagogue", "Centurion Almost Has Roman Citizen Flogged". It would be quite the scandal. Imagine this sound bite, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 21:13) We would all be sitting on our couches thinking this man was insane. How do you go from being a persecutor to a defender? Much less an Apostle?
Well the road to Damascus was a true journey into humility wasn't it? Bright light, Saul falls to the ground, his companions were speechless, they heard the sound but didn't see anyone. "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" Imagine Paul, he is literally on his way to Damascus to get more followers of the Way, to take back to Jerusalem as prisoners. Jesus blinds him, knocks him to the ground and then asks him 'why are you doing this to me?'. It's amazing how God can stop us dead in our tracks and change our course. So God blinds Paul, his companions hold his hand and lead him into Damascus. For three days he was blind. Three days is a long time. The Bible says he didn't eat or drink. Well no, I imagine not. He probably thought God was going to kill him. This is a man that knows the law, he knows sacrificial offerings, he knows of cleansing, he knows now that the Lord knows of the blood of his hands for the ones that he has persecuted. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Paul knew that - he is the one that penned the words.
Even Saul, a prosecutor of Jesus' own believers found grace that brings salvation. God allowed him to be filled with the Holy Spirit, he allowed him to become an Apostle and to pen a vast amount of the New Testament. Who better to tie to New to the Old than someone who had studied the Old extensively? God's divine plan sometimes astounds me. As I am sure it does everyone. The story remains the same throughout the Bible. God takes his followers, and makes them bigger, better, and different, but the foundation that they need to fulfill their destiny is already there, it doesn't need to be taught it only needs to be trained. The DNA is already there, within the seed, even before conception. It needs to be watered, pruned and secured to something plume, get lots of Sonlight and next thing you know...Destiny. God dusts us off, changes our names, tells us who he really intended us to be and TADA...we are able to say "No" to the things that we used to say yes to. He shows us his grace, his mercy, we wrap our hearts around our salvation, the price he paid for us as individuals and it's at that point that we are able to walk away from our former selves.
The only discipline that works, is self-discipline. No matter how many times we tell our children something, until they get it for themselves and are able to do it on their own, we are not discipling them. We are preaching at them, we are filling them full of nutrition, but they have to move and make their own effort in order to receive it. We have to discipline ourselves to walk away from the passions of the world and to turn all of that desire, all of that need of intimacy towards the Lord. He waits for us to get past ourselves and to turn to him, knowing that we can't do it on our own. We mess up, he takes us back, He did with David, he did with Peter, many of the greats of the Bible sinned on their road to righteousness, and always, if they would cry out to Him he would take them back.
Godly lives doesn't mean that we are perfect. It means that we are taking every step necessary to find God's hand in our lives. To cast away anything that doesn't line up with his word. Which includes our own thoughts about ourselves. We are worthy, we are so worthy that He sent His Son to die for us. He knew that the price would be high, but he knew that when He was done that there was no sin that couldn't be forgiven. He looked at our lives from the moment of conception to the moment we live in His glory in heaven and said, this is an abundant offering for all the sins you will ever commit. There is nothing that can't be covered in the blood.
As we walk in our destiny, as we begin to understand our salvation. As we come to the place of repentance to persecuting God with our lack of faith, He will remove the scales from our eyes and show us more glory and teach us more of His ways. Your inbox is always full, there is always new levels and new devils.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT), "So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image."
More and more like him, it's a process not a procedure. With salvation there is not what the US Govt calls SOP, Standard Operating Procedure. We are all individuals, we are all created by God Himself. Every one of us is different with different giftings and different destinys. We all have a different road.
Lord, I know that there are so many out there struggling to accept your love. So many who think that because they are believers that they should walk under their own condemnation for their sin. Father, I just pray that you would break ties with the past in our lives. That we would keep the memories, that we could keep the lessons, but that Lord we would realize we don't live in Egypt any more. Father, on our road to the promise land we know that there is a place in the desert but Lord we chose you. We chose to continue across the Jordan instead of murmuring about what it is you are trying to do in our lives. We will look at this as a time of deliverance and not as a time of imprisonment. Father, we can smell the land of milk and honey and we know it is just beyond the horizon in our lives. Lord we consecrate ourselves and our thoughts and lay our agendas and our entitlements to pity at the alter of your righteousness. Father, there is nothing that can separate us from your love. Father we love you, we thank you. We honor your Son and your Spirit.