Passion Week — Lessons and Parables

15 Apr

The blog entries this week will be much different. This paragraph will be atop each one in explanation of what follows, but as always my prayers will be with you as you read.  However, other than that I will be silent and let the Scripture speak to you without any commentary to disturb your thoughts. Just you and the Holy Spirit without any distractions.  So if I’m not planning to do any chatting, what will I be doing?  Well, I hope I will be helping you drink in all of Passion Week as I help myself do the same.  Quite often with the parables, I take the accounts offered in each of the Gospels and bring all the details together so I can see the whole thing unfold a little more clearly.  I love doing it and it has taught me much.  This week, beginning with the Anointing at Bethany and finishing up with Easter Day, I’m going to try and do the same for Holy Week using the ESV.  

I’ll use different color texts to denote different Books and I’ll post a color key to go with it. In addition, I’ll provide links to BibleGateway.com so you can go and read not only each Scripture for yourself, but also take a look at the “Holy Week Timeline” available on the site. Bringing these passages together is an intentional step toward immersing myself in Christ through this Easter season and I ‘m certain I will learn much and it will bring me much joy. I hope, as we roll away the stone together on Easter Day, you will find the same is true for you. Be blessed Sister.

BOOK OF MATTHEW = GREEN

BOOK OF MARK = BLUE

BOOK OF LUKE = ORANGE

BOOK OF JOHN = PURPLE

*Black will indicate transition words inserted for ease of reading.

Matthew 21:20-22:46; Mark 11:20-12:44; Luke 20:1-47

creation swap background Pierce Brantley 5001 pweek

Lessons From the Withered Fig Tree (Tuesday)

 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours if you have faith. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

 The Temple Debates/Parables (Tuesday)

And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching and preaching the gospel, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death and we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

And he began to speak to them in parables. “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country for a long while. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.  Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he had told the parable against them. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet. So they left him and went away.

 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave wedding feast for his son, and sent his servantsto call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.” ’But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. They sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians to trap him in his talk, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and show no partiality, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”  But Jesus, aware of their malice and knowing their hypocrisy, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Bring me a denariusand let me look at it. Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him,, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent. And they left him and went away.

The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” But Jesus answered them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sonsof the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well. And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching and they no longer dared to ask him any question.

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together and as Jesus taught in the temple, he asked them a question, saying, How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Holy Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
    until I put your enemies under your feet”’?

If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly. And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

 And in his teaching, in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbiby others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,[f] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

AMEN

 

Passion Week — It Was Lived For You

14 Apr

The blog entries this week will be much different. This paragraph will be atop each one in explanation of what follows, but as always my prayers will be with you as you read.  However, other than that I will be silent and let the Scripture speak to you without any commentary to disturb your thoughts. Just you and the Holy Spirit without any distractions.  So if I’m not planning to do any chatting, what will I be doing?  Well, I hope I will be helping you drink in all of Passion Week as I help myself do the same.  Quite often with the parables, I take the accounts offered in each of the Gospels and bring all the details together so I can see the whole thing unfold a little more clearly.  I love doing it and it has taught me much.  This week, beginning with the Anointing at Bethany and finishing up with Easter Day, I’m going to try and do the same for Holy Week using the ESV.  

I’ll use different color texts to denote different Books and I’ll post a color key to go with it. In addition, I’ll provide links to BibleGateway.com so you can go and read not only each Scripture for yourself, but also take a look at the “Holy Week Timeline” available on the site. Bringing these passages together is an intentional step toward immersing myself in Christ through this Easter season and I ‘m certain I will learn much and it will bring me much joy. I hope, as we roll away the stone together on Easter Day, you will find the same is true for you. Be blessed Sister.

BOOK OF MATTHEW = GREEN

BOOK OF MARK = BLUE

BOOK OF LUKE = ORANGE

BOOK OF JOHN = PURPLE

*Black will indicate transition words inserted for ease of reading.

Matthew 21:1-13; 17-19, Mark 11:1-19, Luke 19:29-44, John 12:1-50

creation swap background Pierce Brantley 5001 pweek

Six Days Before the Passover (The Triumphal Entry — Palm Sunday)

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her on which no one has ever sat. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

 “Say to the daughter of Zion,

‘Behold, your king is coming to you,

humble, and mounted on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And its owners said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go.

They brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, they took branches of palm trees and others cut leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen and the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting,

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord even the King of Israel!”

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!

Hosanna in the highest!”

And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  

He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”  His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.

And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, as the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.  They were saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them,

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,

it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am,

there will my servant be also.

If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,

“He has blinded their eyes
    and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
    and understand with their heart, and turn,
    and I would heal them.”

Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

And Jesus cried out and said,

“Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there with the twelve.

Four Days Before the Passover (Monday)

In the morning on the following day, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing  in the distance a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” His disciples heard it and the fig tree withered at once.

 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.

And when evening came they went out of the city.

 AMEN

 

 

Love Speaks . . . Do You?

6 Apr

Image

Urgency to learn to love

—that was the topic of the last post.  It hit home with me in big ways and whenever God draws my attention so completely, an exclamation point on His message is usually in my near future.  This post was no exception.

I write much about living love out loud, stepping out in kindness so that the world sees a difference—

Loving every chance we get. 

But, I don’t write much about giving voice, word along with deed, to the lost about their need of Jesus Christ.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24

I’m certain you know the little catch phrase, “If you live a sermon, you never have to preach one.”  I’m not discounting the power of a life lived well – to glorify God and increase the Kingdom–but I am wondering, if maybe like me, you may have used this particular mindset to excuse yourself from sharing the gospel with those who need desperately to hear it.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.  Romans 10:17

Most often the people who need to hear it from us are those closest to us because they’ve seen our transformation.  They know who we were and can see who we are, but many times those are the ones we’re most afraid to speak the Truth to. There is so much to lose, they may reject Him, and what terrifies us is they may reject us as well. 

We can quote the verses all day long about blessed are those who are persecuted because of My Name  when we are at arms length from the thing but when it’s up close and personal I have to think that the hurt of separation is still going to sting.  We can talk about how the division that Christ brings in many relationships shouldn’t take us off guard because He tells us in His Word that mother and father will be split from children and brother will forsake brother on account of Him.  Well, it might not take our intellect by surprise but our hearts may be another matter altogether. But, even knowing these things, for me the time for deed alone has ended.  For me . . .

It is time to speak.

The fruit in my life, the fruit in your life, can’t authenticate a thing if I don’t give voice to the Who I believe in.  Our deeds can never match our words if there are no words.

One of my prayers for this year has been to . . . .

Fearlessly fear only God.

And He is answering by gently pulling back the veil so that I am able to see the areas I am still shrinking back in.  I too often let the fear of man set my path, choose my words, restrain my love.  Because true love . . .

Christ-like Love will risk me to reach them.

If I am desiring to observe Christ and learn a life of extravagant love, expecting nothing and offering everything  than I am going to put all of me on the line.  I won’t hold back a thing because

Our Jesus has withheld nothing of Himself.

He gave up His heavenly home, put on earthly skin, and came to walk among us.  He wasn’t concerned with His comfort.

He was concerned with us.

He lived in unbridled holiness and Love on this planet and endured hostility, rejection, and in the end, humiliation as the soldiers mocked and spit upon Him.  He was not consumed with Him.

He was consumed with us.

He died the unimaginable death, on full display while they continued to taunt Him, “if you are who you say you are . . .”, “If you really are the Son of God” .  And still, He was not focused on vengeance.

He was focused on forgiveness.

Sweet One, Christ lived love out loud – but He spoke Love as well.  His actions matched His Words.  The fruit of His life authenticated every holy utterance.

To Love Like That – I must do the same.

To Love Like That – You must do the same.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Ephesians 5:1-2

Live it out to be sure – but speak the Truth.  Share the gospel.  Love the ones you love enough to tell them that they NEED HIM.   I’m afraid if we allow the fear of separation and rejection to keep us quiet then we will risk the ultimate separation when our time on this planet is done.

Be strong and courageous

– love without limits—

 love without caution.

Love was offered knowing rejection would be the response.  Love was given feely.  No strings attached. No demand for love in return.   Because here’s the stunning truth, even those who have not repented in their hearts, confessed with their mouths, or professed love for God, well, they are still loved by God.  Are they saved?  Absolutely not.  But are they loved?  Absolutely.

His desire is for them to come home.  He created us for complete love fellowship with Him.  He wants us to realize the depth of our lost sin condition and accept the Gift of Grace who wore flesh to save us.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

That is Love.  He is Love.  Long-suffering, compassionate, Love.  It isn’t what He does.

Love is Who He is.

The hard question then is . . . Do I really want to Love Like That?

The answer is yes.  But I so confess that I’m not sure how.  And I am asking God to move every bit of me out of the way and fill me up with every bit of Him.

I came face-to-face with what seemed to be a life and death situation with someone I love.  I had always thought that if I just lived it out, she would see a difference.  I thought it would make her want to know why and how we do life on the Boulevard the way we do in the face of much trial.  But Sister, it was not enough

As we drove to the hospital, my heart was filled with regret because I had not spoken.  Had I lived?  Yes.  But had I loved?  NO!  Because I would not risk me for her.  I would not give love freely with no strings attached.   I chose caution over extravagance.

So I praise God that “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” but in the same breath I confess the sin of fear to Him and ask that He strengthen me of Spirit–not allowing me to continue in the footsteps of self-preservation. 

It is time to speak.

So Sweet Reader, I must ask you this, do you know Jesus as your Savior?  Have you acknowledged the sin in your life and asked for forgiveness in His Name?  If not, do it now.  Do not wait.  Today is the day of your salvation.  If you confess with your mouth and believe with your heart you will be saved.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  Romans 10:9-10

It is time to speak.

There are no “official words”  and you will not find the “Salvation Prayer” in any particular chapter or book of the Bible.  Beloved, just talk to Him. 

Pour your heart out to Him. 

Confess your need of Him. 

Be filled with the Love of Him.

If you’re not certain what to say, this is a prayer that can guide you, but it isn’t the words – it’s the heart giving voice to them:

Oh My Father,

I come to you in the name of Jesus, Your Son, whom You Sent for me. I am a sinner who needs you and I repent of my sinful way of life–

I need your forgiveness.

I believe that Your One and Only Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins and Father, I want to turn from my life of sin and live for Him. Your Holy Word promises, that if I confess the Lord and believe in my heart that You raised Jesus from the dead,

I will be saved. 

I believe Your Word Lord. Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His Word,

right now I am saved.

Thank you for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. Grace that never leads to license, but rather always leads to repentance. Therefore Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone and not to myself. Thank you Jesus for living for me, dying for me, and giving me eternal life through Your resurrection. 

In Your Blessed, Holy Name I pray.  Amen.

Sister, if you’ve spoken that prayer for the first time today, welcome to the Kingdom of Life!  Death has no hold over you and the angels of God are rejoicing.  Please find someone to tell.  Get to a Bible-based group of believers.  Study the Word of God.  Do not be the seed on rocky soil burning hot for a moment and then quickly snuffed out by the troubles of life.

And if this wasn’t your occasion to pray, I’m asking God to bring a great cloud of witnesses into your life who are not afraid of rejection, separation or the loss of you to share this message with you again.  I’m asking Him to convince the ones close to you that it is time to love you extravagantly and confirm for them that it is time to speak.

Blessings to you Sweet Sisters around the world.  May His Love give the gentle boldness we need as you and I go forth in His Name and may we speak.

2 Corinthians 4:13

His Love Story is Your Life Story

29 Mar

 

Dear God,

We thank you for the privilege of being together

at this time and in this place.

As your people, we pray that your love

will unite us into a fellowship of discovery.

Cleanse us of everything that would

sap our strength for togetherness.

Unravel the knots in our spirits.

Cleanse the error of our minds.

Free us from the bondage of our negative imaginations.

Break down the barriers that sometimes keep us apart

and cause us to drift along without a dream.

As we go from here – Explode in us new possibilities for service.

Kindle within us the fires of your compassion

so that we may not wait too long

to learn to love.

May we be a people with loving purposes -

Reaching out …

Breaking walls …

Building bridges …

Let us be your alleluia in a joyless, fragmented world.

In the name of our Lord, we pray. Amen.

– Champ TraylorCreation Swap Open Bible jesus chiko 11504 RIBBET

This was the opening prayer at a ladies retreat I attended. Isn’t it beautiful? If you skipped it or read it quickly, let your eyes and your heart drift over it again. Unravel the knots in our spirits . . . . Free us from the bondage of our negative imaginations . . .Kindle compassion . . . learn to love . . . be your alleluia.

How appropriate for this Easter season that we would encounter a prayer petitioning God for an urgent desire to learn to love – right now, with the Cross of Good Friday directly in our sight lines and the greatest demonstration of Love the world has ever witnessed just over the horizon. How fitting that the words we read appear to describe the full and abundant life, the life of purpose, that Love reached across death and rose to offer us.  Reaching out . . . Breaking walls . . . Building bridges . . . be your alleluia.

Yes Sweet One, Love burst forth from the tomb – He reached beyond the grave and would not be walled in. Love bridged the chasm of sin between the Creator and the created – He would not leave us isolated, hopeless and alone. And He has breathed life into our souls so that we might yearn to live and to love like Him, to truly be His alleluia in the joyless, fragmented world all around us. Is that not what Love living in us will look like if we will but surrender and choose it?

Is that not the very thing the Messiah came for? Not to simply speak love or speak about love, but to demonstrate to us and for us the breadth, the depth and the length of a heart purposed to be Love. A heart purposed to have no discrepancy between word and deed—committed to look on the helpless and the harassed and offer hope. A heart purposed to see with eyes of grace –steadfast in reaching out with the hand of Truth. Oh Beloved, His love knew no limits—it would not be contained that Easter morning and it will not be contained today.

Yet, too often I find that the knots in my spirit choke out the love in my heart and the error of my mind obscures my vision of the truth. The bondage from my vain imagination chains me to fear, uncertainty, and isolation. And I am sapped of my strength to do life by my Sister’s side, by my husband’s side, by my child’s side. I am ineffective as an encourager, a prayer warrior, or a joy deliverer because I am consumed with “the everything” of this temporal life. Sister, I need this prayer– in this season of life and in this time – and may I be so bold as to suggest that you consider your own need as well?

Not only do we need to say this prayer with sincere and believing hearts, but I believe with everything I am that the hurting ones, those who are doing life in the joyless and fragmented world, they need us to say this prayer with genuine desire. They need me, they need you, to ache to be filled with Love so that we will have the tenacity it takes to reach beyond ourselves and grab their hands in the midst of their circumstances. It is urgent for them that we break down the walls and emerge from behind the barriers with hearts full of grace and a renewed purpose to love. And it is essential for them that you and I long to be bridge builders of integrity who long to love the same way Jesus does—with extravagance.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Ephesians 5:1-2, The MSG

Girlfriend, if the day is not today to Love like that, then when?

If this is not the season to be the alleluia, what season will be?

Every day and every season is our day . . .our day to LOVE.

If the Father has called us to His side and we know Jesus as our Savior then the Spirit, who is Love, beats within us. He is our promise that until we see Grace face-to-face, until we look Love in the eyes – He will empower us to live beyond our limited, cautious love. See, Sister, no matter what life circumstance we face, no matter what hurt we have endured, no matter how certain we are that our well has run dry He is our guarantee that Love is surely alive and well within us.

We may run out of energy to love others—He does not.

We may not have what it takes to reach out—He does.

We may have come to our limit—He never will.

Oh Beloved, we need to shout the alleluia at the end of each one of those statements, fall to our knees and praise Him that there is an end to us! Because when we arrive at the end of ourselves – that’s when Love truly lives.

And, our Jesus, the One and Only – who perfectly lived, died, and rose to Love –desires not only to give love to us, He longs to give love through us. See, Sweet One, when He rescues us from death . . .

we become His living love story.

creation swap heart in bible Marian Trinidad 7896 ribbet

We leave our knotted spirits in the hands of the One who loves us.

We follow His lead, leaving our negative imaginations behind.

We hang on His every Word,

watch His every move,

so that we can learn to love extravagantly.  

And every day, every moment, every season brings us closer to our happy ending . . .

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation:

Trust steadily in God,

hope unswervingly,

love extravagantly.

And the best of the three is love. Creation Swap God stories Chris Bearing 12933 1cor

1 Corinthians 13:13, The MSG

LOVE LIKE THAT

Resolved to Involve

13 Mar

Marilyn (Bunny) Biddinger:

Today, the Biddinger Crew is off the Boulevard in wintry Michigan and enjoying the Sonshine as well as the sunshine, but one year ago today our surroundings were a little different. We had actually just cancelled our vacation and returned home after Brett did a week long stint at the hospital in Grand Rapids. It was in the aftermath of that health crisis, emergency admittance, and surgery that “Resolved to Involve” was originally posted. Believe it or not, the condition that landed Brett in the hospital is still present. He is still fighting the good fight and we are treating it as vigorously as we know how. God has shown us much in this past year and I pray Sister that if you’ve come along for the ride, your heart has been encouraged because as you’re about to read . . . we were never intended to do this life alone. Enjoy this look back and maybe even take a minute or two to let your heart ponder where you have journeyed — and who has journeyed with you — in the last 365 days. See you after vacation! (Click Here or View Original below)

meandmyman1(if you’d like to catch a daily #lessonsfromlent join @glimpsedglory on twitter or like Glimpsed Glory on facebook.)

Originally posted on glimpsedglory:

Today’s blog post will not be for the faint of heart nor the person with limited reading time.  The more I thought the more that poured out on the page so if you are not in the mood for some real transparency along with blood and guts honesty you might want to wait until the next entry.  You see I am kicking around the idea that I am believing the lie that if I appear to be anything other than self-sufficiently serene then I am less than the Christian woman I “should” be.  And when I kick around an idea for me, I usually take the liberty of kicking it around for you too. I’m quite certain that I am going to have a difficult time articulating what I have been pondering so I am praying that God will take my muddled thinking and turn it into something that really…

View original 1,374 more words

I Stole His Seat . . . Again!

5 Mar

I’ve had the blessing over the last weeks to participate in the Gideon Bible study written by Priscilla Shirer God truly blessed her with powerful truth to share and I have enjoyed diving into every lesson.  I so pray that God will continue to pour His good favor out on her and she will seize every opportunity to share with the rest of us all He reveals to her through the Holy Spirit.

One of the things that I love about being in a Bible study written by someone else is that for me, it doesn’t stop when the earthly author does.  God most often nudges me to go a little further and use those principles and concepts introduced as a springboard to look a bit more intently at the thing.  I’m sure it’s the same for you.  God has a personal and unique message for this season of your life just like He does mine and I don’t think He’ll stop prompting our hearts until we’ve gone where He is leading.

This week the Bible study didn’t take us to the happy place of victory with Gideon.  It took us more to the place that too often occurs in my own life.  The spot after God has shown Himself mighty, the hard work of the battle is seemingly behind me, and then it happens . . . my dependence on Him starts to shift.

So even though I’ve just seen the Hand of God move mountains afresh and be absolutely huge, my focus, my gaze, that was so firmly fixed on Him finds its way back to me. Ugh!  And there I am in the all too familiar place of fighting the urge to march off in my own direction. Beloved, don’t you wonder what in the world would prompt us to ever even entertain the idea of crawling out from under the refuge of His wing and moving out on our own say so? Do we not remember that He does everything and anything better than we could ever dream of? . . . Psalm 18:30

As for God, his way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him. 

But unfortunately, I still find the gaze of my heart shifting from Him and landing squarely on me more often than I’d like. My hope is that as I walk closer and seek harder after Him, those times will continue to become fewer and farther between, but even that—that increased length of time before I display my penchant for me—is all the work of God on a weak and frail human heart.  Does His mercy not astound you and His patience not leave you stunned?  The pure Love of Him and Grace He lavishes ought to be enough to make our wandering hearts stay put.

And yet, time and again, . . .

woman gazing at reflection article no copyright noted

 we find ourselves, returning to ourselves.

Returning to ourselves to make decisions with no consultation with God about our lives.  Returning to ourselves to make choices based on what we think, never inquiring about His thoughts.  Returning to ourselves to pick and choose how we will use our resources, our time, our talents without once asking about the Kingdom Agenda.

Yes Dear One, over and over again,  . . .

Woman gazing at self

we find ourselves, returning to ourselves.

The most succinct definition for sin I have encountered is offered by author Michael E. Wittmer in the book Heaven is a place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God He simply calls it what it is:  autonomous action.  To me it hits the nail on the head.  It describes perfectly the process that takes place when we move God off the throne of our lives and take His spot as The authority, The decision maker, The ruler over our actions.  And I don’t think the definition changes no matter where you are at in your faith journey.

Any time I choose to act apart from God, to return to myself . . .it’s sin.

Woman gazing at self

Anytime I invite myself to rule over myself . . . it’s sin.

I can tell, and I bet you can too, when I’ve begun making my way into the throne room and am contemplating stealing the seat again.  It doesn’t happen all at once—no my rebellion takes place one step at a time.  And, maybe those baby steps toward our autonomous action shouldn’t surprise us because It seems to be the way it most often happens. Rarely, I think would we look sin square in the face as believers in Christ and make the choice to jump in with both feet.  More often I think it’s those incremental steps we take when our flesh is lulled by small compromise after small compromise.

Look at the way Eve was pulled closer and closer to autonomous action. . .to sinShe didn’t begin with setting herself up to judge God and decide on her own that He was wrong about the fruit.  Nope. She danced around the thing.  She thought about it.  Contemplated the appearance of it.  Entertained the wisdom of it.

And then, she fixed her gaze firmly on her and she decided.  She knew better than God.  She would be seated on the throne of her life.  She would wear the crown and be her own ruler.  She took autonomous action . . .sin.

It’s the same for me.  My own penchant for ruling me rears its ugly head.  And then there I am . . . dancing around the thing, thinking about it, contemplating the appearance of it, entertaining the wisdom of it and then, I decide. I take autonomous action . . .I sin.

And here’s the thing, the thing I choose to put on the throne, the thing I allow to rule over me may not be in and of itself a bad thing.  Leisure time is not a bad thing.  Serving the Church is not a bad thing.  Exercise is not a bad thing.  Socializing is not a bad thing.  But if I exalt any activity –even the good ones– above my relationship with God and allow it to dictate my schedule, my resources, my energy then I have placed the crown of authority on its head.  I have invited it to take the throne.

And we have to ask ourselves why?  Why would we let leisure time rule over us?  Why would we choose to be all consumed with service rather than all consumed with Him? Why forego strengthening my relationship with Him for strengthening my quad muscles?  Why choose to fritter time away on social media rather than invest in time with Him?  See what I’m saying?  When we give it authority – permission to rule over us—even the good becomes twisted because we have appointed it to be our king.

Sister, God has already appointed the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to wear that crown and any substitute we appoint will fall miserably short of our Jesus.  Let me write that again, any substitute –no matter how attractive or well justified in our own minds– will fall miserably short of our Jesus.

And this is the fringe lesson I learned from the Gideon study today . . .rulers always have descendants.

Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.”  Judges 8:22

Here’s what I mean.  If leisure time is my ruler it will give birth to unpreparedness when the next trial or battle comes.  Should I choose to make service to the Church the priority over time with God I will be left with the son of loneliness and the grandson of emptiness because I won’t be filling myself with Him, with His Company, with His Love for me.   Establishing exercise as my king, bowing my schedule to it and pushing time with the Father to the back burner, will spawn a weak connection with God as its descendant.  And exalting social media to the throne will give birth to broken relationships and lack of fellowship with other believers. And the descendants will rule.  Passing the tarnished crown from one generation to another.  Each a bit a more firmly ensconced on the throne than the last and harder to unseat.

  • See, the cycle will never end unless I purposefully and intentionally choose my King every single day.  It will never end for you unless you purposefully and intentionally choose your King every single day.

God told Cain in the very first book of the Bible, sin is crouching at your door, and its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. We, you and I as believers in Jesus Christ, have the power to choose.

  • You have the power, I have the power, through the Holy Spirit to choose what is right – not in our own eyes – but in His.

It’s the same choice God’s people have always faced.  Who will rule over you? Joshua challenged the Israelites to make the choice with words that should absolutely sting our souls . . .Joshua 24:15

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.

And we should drop to our knees praising God for Jesus who not only rules as our King but infuses us with the Holy Spirit who desires to choose what is right and holy in our lives.  Because Girlfriend, the date may have changed but the choice has not . . .

  • But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day who will rule over you.  Only you can decide.  Only you can choose.

Sister, may we yield to no other this day. May we purposefully choose Christ over the gods of the land in which we live and bow only to Him.  May we bend the knee in holy submission and declare for all the heavenlies to hear that He and He alone is the Ruler of our lives.  May we pledge our undying devotion and love to the One and Only King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  And may we do so every day – reserving the throne and crown for only Him.

Revelation 19:16

Your Limitations CANNOT Limit Your God . . . Just Give Him Your Lunch!

21 Feb

The Mephibosheth blog post was a public declaration of sorts.  A kind of notice that I am going to spend a year at the King’s Table with hopes of coming to know my God in a deeper and more passionate way.  Are you familiar with the expression “I bring nothing to the table?”  Well, for this particular occasion truer words were never spoken.  But, in spite of my nothing to offer, I am pulling up my chair and leaning in close.

I’ve been keeping a little journal of the days.  Wanting to have a record of the miracles of God and to have a tangible proof of the transformation I am certain He is going to bring about in my heart.  I fully felt His good pleasure and favor fall on me on Day One as He brought Psalm 66 to life through a beautiful long distance worship experience with my Sweet Florida Girl.  (If you want to read about His in-depth involvement I’ve posted my journal page here.)

But it was on Day 2 that God really spoke to my heart and gave me assurance for the days at the King’s Table to come.  What beautiful words – that I’m certain I’ve read many times before but this was day He had appointed me to see them with my heart for the very first time. . . Matthew 9:36

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (ESV)

Sister, I can’t speak for you but I have spurts in life when I feel a little harassed and a lot helpless and the idea that Jesus has compassion on me in that state is beautiful to me.  And I love the plain language of the thing.  It just hits my soul like cool water.

Matthew 9:36

So a day and one-half had passed and the seat at the table felt pretty comfortable—a heart-to-heart mother/daughter worship paired with a new soul discovery.  I only had about four hours left until bed time and then I could begin Day Three.  So much can happen in four short hours and the “pretty comfortable chair” can quickly become uncomfortable.  Like leather on a hot summer day when you’re wearing shorts.

Have you ever encountered a situation when you’re uncertain how you should handle it and so maybe out of habit or maybe because it’s what you know, you just plow ahead doing what you’ve always done?  That’s where I found myself – not out and out rebellion because I began very measured and careful.  But I soon heard myself choosing to serve my own agenda rather than surrender to love – and very quickly those four short hours before bedtime became somewhat nightmarish in my own mind.

If the blog has not clued you in to this, I like to share life and I like to talk – that gets me into trouble sometimes.  God has done such a mighty work in me and really refined what I say and how I say it, but there are still times when that weakness, that desire to share my opinion, rears its ugly head and bites me.  The evening of Day Two was just such an occasion.

Please keep in mind that God has drawn my attention on so many occasions to the verses that make it plain that it’s the fool who is quick to share what she believes to be wisdom without consulting the One Who truly is wise . . .Proverbs 18:2

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. (ESV)

And even if I have hashed the thing over with Him and feel it settled in my own mind and heart, that doesn’t mean He’s given me the permission to shout it from the roof tops . . . Romans 14:22

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. (NIV)

What I see with those two verses, one in the Old Covenant and one in the New, is that I’m best to sometimes keep what I think to myself.  And in this instance, I didn’t feel as if I heeded God’s exhortation very well.

Those around me weren’t offended and I did offer apology but I still didn’t sleep well that night. I poured my heart out in confession but I was still left with this twisted stomach and I’m going to just say it – SHAME – in the pit of my heart.  All of that serpent talk was whispering in my head, “you did this again?” . . .”God is so disappointed in you” . . . Talk about feeling a little harassed and a lot helpless.

Now you know and I know that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and true repentance means restoration for the soul. Freedom in His Name–It’s my greatest joy.

But no matter how I prayed, I couldn’t get my heart to match up with what my head knows to be true and that sick feeling just sort of sat there.

So, I started asking God to show me how this instance was fitting in with everything else He seems to be about the business of doing in my life.  And in His faithfulness, He spoke to me – slowly so I could understand!

He reminded me of the places we had been in Scripture the past few weeks and of the ache I had professed to Him to see others be in awe at His miracles. That’s supposed to be what miracles do — point to the greatness of God and leave us slack-jawed at His goodness and His power.  I had prayed to inspire people to want the transformation that only Jesus brings about and I had prayed to fall more deeply in love with my Savior.  I guess I just really hadn’t anticipated that for others to see the transformation that this year at the King’s Table will bring about in me – they have to know the starting point.  Ouch!  And perhaps I needed a reminder as well.

I pray for myself consistently to guard against a haughty attitude . . . Isaiah 5:21 Isaiah 5:21

What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever. (NLT)

I ask God to bless me with a humble heart and contrite spirit so I can make Him proud of the way I share His Glory and His Word . .  . Isaiah 66:2Isaiah 66:2

Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord.“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. (NIV)

See how true it is that I don’t bring much to the table?  But even though it isn’t much, I’m offering it up and asking God to bring about a mighty change and I’m trusting that He will.  Not based on me, but based on Him.

I write it all the time because nothing has made me more certain of the Rock underneath my feet . . .I trust Him because my God does not change and my Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He’s faithful to Himself.  Who He has been is Who He is.  And the Who of Him will NOT give up on me . . .Philippians 1:6

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (ESV)

2 Kings 4 is all about God doing much with little.  Familiar accounts of the woman’s oil that never runs out and the raising of the wealthy woman’s son.  It’s all Him providing in unexpected ways and bringing life from death and tucked into two verses is, what seems to me to be an arrow pointing straight to the New Testament and our God wearing skin . . . 2 Kings 4:42-44

42 A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, “Give to the men, that they may eat.” 43 But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” So he repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’” 44 So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the Lord. (ESV)

Sound familiar?  Cross over the Covenant Line and join Jesus on the Mountain. You could choose any of the Gospels, they all record the miracle they witnessed that day.  I’m choosing Matthew just because that’s where I am reading right now. . . Matthew 14:15-20

15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. (ESV)

God took the small amount given and HE made miracles happen.  The limited amount He received placed no limitation on the blessing that He gave.  We simply cannot confine the miraculous.

And here’s a detail John shares that Matthew, Mark, and Dr. Luke do not – the five loaves and 2 fish belonged to a boy in the crowd . . . John 6:8-11

One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. (ESV)

Christ took the boy’s lunch, gave thanks and distributed it to “those who were seated” – He transformed famine to feast.  The ones sitting at His feet brought “nothing to the table” but they walked away filled by His goodness.

A Sweet Sister asked me recently, “Bunny, will you give God your lunch?”  She was referring to this very passage.  At the time, I chalked it up to the things in the long string that I talked about in The Invitation blog post beckoning me to pull up a seat at the King’s Table.  But I think, now that I have returned an RSVP of “Yes Lord,” that I’m beginning to see the question a little more clearly and in the process, maybe part of the answer as well.

I don’t have to bring much to the table.  But what I have, I need to be willing to give to Him and trust Him to multiply the ordinary in Extraordinary ways.  He will not be limited by my limitations.  Isn’t that beautiful?

And I can’t hide the miracle transformation.  For people to praise God for the transformation, they need to know the less-than that He started with.  So I’m not glad that I repeated those old patterns, but I am thankful that God has shown me this early in the journey that  if I will give Him my lunch, He will turn my famine to feast.  He’ll take my not much and make miracles with it.  That’s who He is and it’s what He does.

God loves to bring the Miracle More from our much less.

Sisters, I have to tell you, if the first three days are any indication of what will be distributed to the “one who is seated”, then at this point I am certain that I have no idea of the depth of the transformation that is going to take place.  No idea of the Miracle More He has in mind to bring from the much less that I am offering Him.

So may I be so bold as to ask if you have pulled up your own chair?  Have you taken your seat at the King’s Table or claimed a patch of grass on the mountainside at the feet of Christ?  Don’t worry about the “nothing that you bring” – it seems to me that making much from nothing is His specialty. Every person blessed to know Grace brings that sentence to life.

The Word is clear.  Scripture upon Scripture confirms it for us.

Our God will never leave us empty handed.

– We’ll always be blessed with the more of Him. –

He will always bring us feast in our famine.

– He will take the much less and deliver the Miracle More. –

And He will not be limited by our limitations.

– No human eye has seen nor heart conceived. –

So the question remains Sweet One . . . .

lunch

Will you give God your lunch?

My Valentine Looks Like His Dad: Brett’s Journal — #60

14 Feb

A while ago when I was memorizing the Love Chapter from the Amplified translation I was struck by 1 Corinthians 13:5 and the exhortation to refrain from keeping a record of wrongs.  I admit to you that a mental running record of offenses is what comes naturally to me so pondering on this verse, especially in connection to my marriage, was much needed.  God brought to mind all the verses I know that tell me to pick up my sword and fight the natural woman –the old me–in me.  Not to be passive and simply expect old thought patterns and old habits to disappear on their own.  He so encouraged me to let go of that toxic way of thinking and really challenged me to let my Man off the hook the same way He had me.  He reminded me that He chooses not to keep a record of my offenses – even though He could have a list longer than I have time to enumerate or you have time to read.  But instead He chooses to remember my sin no more.

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,

and I will remember their sins no more.

Hebrews 8:12

In fact, He keeps account of the things I do right.  What a God!  What Grace!  What Love!  But again, love is not simply what God does – it’s Who He is.

The I AM is LOVE.

And Love tells me that whatever is lovely, whatever is noble, whatever is excellent – these are the things I should be thinking about – not offenses, real or perceived, committed against me.

Brett's journalSo, I picked up Philippians 4:8 and I began to keep a record of rights for my Man. The stuff isn’t deep some of it’s downright silly.  The very first entry says . . .

  1.  1.  You smiled at my humming and I know it must be annoying.♥

I just write down the things that speak to my heart in the every day.  That’s what real living and real loving is – the every day.  There are grand moments of celebration but they ring hollow if that’s all there is.  There are special occasions filled with hoopla but they don’t mean much if they don’t stand on the shoulders of the daily choice to love.  So I write down the things that show my Man’s choice to love me in the everyday.  I keep a record of his rights.  I brag on him to me.  I think about “these things.”

And so today on February 14th, I’m going to share “Journal Entry #60” and thank God that He calls us to be like Him.  Without His Word and His call to imitate Him as a dearly loved child, I would’ve missed out on these most excellent things and I never would have loved like that left to my own devices.  Thank you Lord for all you do.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.  Ephesians 5:1-2, The Message

#60 — ♥ — Brett – Will you be my Valentine?

Hello Valentine – and I mean that with every ounce of love in me.

I want you to know that I notice you – noticing and “not noticing” – me.

I know it doesn’t come natural to you to say things out loud, but you still do.  You tell me out loud that you love me and that I’m beautiful to you.  You’ll never know how many times I’ve whispered “thank you Lord that beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and given thanks that your eyes still see me that way.

I’ve noticed the effort you make to see what’s important to me so that you can celebrate without being coached. It melts my heart that you never ask me to tone down making much of Him just because your style is more low-key.  And the smile that creeps across your face when you’re listening to me share the latest thunderbolt to strike my soul makes my knees weak.

I notice you closing the door when my “joyful noise” bothers you rather than ask me to stop.

Yes Sweetheart, I’ve noticed all your noticing and

You’re just IT to me.

I’ve also noticed all your “not noticing.”

Not noticing when I haven’t shaved my legs – for a long time!  Not noticing the physical baggage I’m dragging “behind me” these last months.  Not noticing that the house isn’t quite as clean as it should be.  And not noticing the days that I don’t expend the energy to do my hair or put on my make- up.

Yes Sweetheart, I notice all your “not noticing” and oh,

How I love you!

I love you for not letting the reality of your wife sway your heart when it doesn’t always match the dreams you may have had of the girl you’d marry and I love you for looking more like your Dad everyday.  For choosing to love, despite the circumstances, just like He does. . .

I hear His voice in you – You sound like Him.

I see His grace in you – You act like Him.

I feel His heart in you – You love like Him.

Yes Husband, you look more like Him every day

and Valentine,

I’m so grateful you are mine.

1 John 4:16

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  1 John 4:16

The Invitation is for YOU!

7 Feb

“For many, the demands of everyday life are so packed with activities, responsibilities, and to-do lists that feeling overwhelmed is normal.  With so many pressures few have time to feed their soul.  The result is spiritual and emotional starvation—a deep inner hunger for peace, rest, and security.  And this hunger is pervasive.  At every age, in every walk of life, too many of us are starving for the nourishment that only God can provide.   .   .   .   . Unfortunately, too many of us try to satisfy our hunger with the spiritual equivalent of “fast food” – self-defeating behaviors, relationships that have more to do with feeding carnal hunger than the longing of the soul.” – The Daniel Cure, Pg. 13

Those words jumped off the page of Susan Gregory’s book as if the Holy One Himself had dragged a yellow highlighter over them.  They spoke straight to my heart – again.  You see this particular passage is simply the latest in what seems to be several other instances of Holy highlighting.  And here’s the thing—when I string them all together, one after the other, they all deliver the same invitation.

www.bigstock.com 46135957There it is —  engraved by the Most High,

signed by the Blood of the Lamb,

and heart delivered by the Spirit of Glory.

Will you, Marilyn, spend one year with your chair pulled close?

The invitation arrived in the early fall of 2013.  Since then, my heart has fingered it over at least a hundred times.  I felt the fine linen paper when He delivered my verse for 2014:

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.  Mostly what God does is love you.  Keep company with him and learn a life of love.  Observe how Christ loved us.  His love was not cautious but extravagant.  He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.  Love like that. Ephesians 5:1-2, The MSG

You don’t keep much closer company than when you’re eating together.  You don’t get a lot of chances to look at someone as up close and personal as you do when you share a meal.

I moved my hand over the raised lettering as I wrote post after post filled with exhortation to you and to me to seek hard after Him and to know, without a doubt that He will be the God of More He promises to be.

Do not believe for a moment He has abandoned you in the trial Sweet One.  Your God would not take you there or allow the challenge if He did not have More for you on the other side.  You hang on with faith.  You pray big, ambitious prayers and you wait expectantly for your God to bless you. Listen to Him when He tells you not be afraid and consider Joshua 1:9 to be your personal post-it note straight from the heart of the Holy One. Press it on your chest Girlfriend, count on Him to do what He says He will do, and be confident that the God of More is with you. (The God of More . . . Much More, Sept 3)

And each time my heart glided over His Holy request, I tried to imagine what it might look like to spend one year dining with the King. Yes, I tried to imagine . . . .

Absolutely feasting on the Bread of Life and being filled with His wisdom, His compassion, and His Love.

Drinking in all that the Spirit is willing to give until the well of my soul overflows with Living Water.

Pulling my chair as close as I can and consuming every Word that falls from the lips of the Almighty One.

Marilyn, WILL YOU SPEND A YEAR AT THE KING’S TABLE?

Vintage Wedding Invitation

The invitation first arrived, signed and sealed by the Holy Spirit, held tightly in the hand of . . . . Mephibosheth.  Bet you weren’t expecting that – neither was I.  But if we’ve learned nothing else on the journey, we surely have grabbed onto the immutable fact that God will not be confined by our expectations.  And I’ve learned from my Sweet Florida Girl that that’s a good thing, because we would always expect far too little from Him as our finite minds tried to conceive what the Infinite should do and how He should go about the business of doing it.   As she says, “He will always exceed our expectations.”

So how exactly did the grandson of Saul, the son of Jonathan—ankles crippled in a fall when he was barely more than a toddler—come to be my personal messenger?   Through the study of Covenant of course!  That exclamation point was put there tongue-in-cheek to be sure.  Who would have expected to limp along beside Mephibosheth until they were offered a seat by the King?  But that’s exactly what happened.

God began engraving the invitation Mephibosheth would deliver to my heart with the covenant pledge made by Jonathan to David, who would later become the king,  in 1 Samuel 18:3-4.

Then Johnathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.  Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.

And now we have the firstborn son of King Saul, willingly stripped of his royal array, possibly looking more like a shepherd than a future king, side-by-side and heart-to-heart with David who is covered head-to-toe in the royal robe with the weapons of the son firmly in his hands.

And this covenant relationship – more akin to the knitting together of two souls than just a simple pledge or promise—was extended to the families of each of the men in 1 Samuel 20 with Jonathan pledging to preserve the life of David and asking David to do the same for his family should he be killed.

“You shall not cut off your lovingkindness from my house forever, not even when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth. “  So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD require it at the hands of David’s enemies.”  Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life.  1 Samuel 20:15-17

And this was the vow between David and Jonathan when Saul and Jonathan met their ends.  The battle that ensued between the house of David and house of Saul over the kingdom saw the demise of all the descendants of Saul, except one.

Now Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son crippled in his feet.  He was five years old when the report of Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled.  And it happened that in her hurry to flee, he fell and became lame.  And his name was Mephibosheth.  2  Samuel 4:4

And that’s the last we hear of Mephibosheth until 2 Samuel 9.

Five long chapters pass as David fights enemy after enemy in an effort to unite the kingdom.  He’s mocked as weak, able to be defeated as easy as the “blind and the lame” by the Jebusites in Jerusalem and searched out for destruction by the Philistines.  And although David is satisfied to simply defeat the Philistines, the taunts of the occupants of Jerusalem were rumored to have so angered the king that he barred the “blind and the lame” from his house/presence.

And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack “the lame and the blind,” who are hated by David’s soul.”  Therefore, it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.”  2 Samuel 5:8

Mephibosheth, though he was in hiding with his crippled feet would certainly have become aware of the rumors of the king’s anger and the actions that resulted from it.  Even if he had not felt himself in danger as the grandson of Saul, he would never have believed himself welcome in the presence of King David in his “lame” condition.  Both lineage and present condition made him an enemy of the king.

Now, I’ve searched the Scripture as well as commentaries and haven’t been able to locate a single place that describes a public declaration of the covenant between Jonathan, the king’s son and David, the shepherd boy.  So to the best that I can attest right now, the covenant was known only to David and Jonathan.  And that makes sense to me because if it were common knowledge, like the rumor barring the lame from the king’s presence, it seems to me that people would’ve been coming out of the woodwork  to falsely claim relationship to Jonathan  in an effort to curry favor with David.

Instead we find David, now securely in his position as king, opening 2 Samuel 9 searching for a member of Saul’s household:

  • 1 Samuel 9:1-3
    • Then David said, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”  Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David; and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.”  The king said, “Is there not yet anyone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?”  And Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet.”

David wanted so badly, for the sake of Jonathan, to offer kindness to a member of Saul’s household so he eagerly looked for someone to whom he could extend the covenant kindness he had promised to Jonathan.  The servant that appears before him, Ziba, makes it clear that Mephibosheth, the one left in Saul’s household, is crippled in both feet.  In other words—nobody the king wants in his presence.  But David sends him out after Mephibosheth regardless of his condition.

Ziba retrieves Mephibosheth from the land where he has been living, Lo-Debar.  It is a dry, barren, fruitless land that offers those who dwell there little. But at least in Lo-Debar Mephibosheth felt safe, perhaps that’s not so for the lame grandson of Saul as he enters  the presence of King David.

  • 2 Samuel 9:6-7
    • Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and prostrated himself.  And David said, “Mephibosheth.”  And he said, “Here is your servant!”  David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you shall eat at my table regularly.”

Mephibosheth hasn’t done a thing to deserve to be in the presence of the king.  In fact, his crippled condition, the result of his fall, should have barred him from his presence altogether.  But David did not see Mephibosheth’s crippled feet when he looked at him, King David saw Jonathan, the brother he had loved.  Mephibosheth had not earned a place at the table of the king, but David would look on Jonathan’s son as his own.

Overwhelmed and maybe even reeling with disbelief, Mephibosheth reminds him of who he is –“What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?”

But rather than condemn Mephibosheth, David defines the blessings that are about to come to the son of Jonathan.  “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house” will be given to Mephibosheth – what an unexpected, undeserved, unearned inheritance.  Given to him, not because of who he was, but because of who he belonged to.

Mephibosheth will now live in the lands that belonged to King Saul.  Fruitful and lush, lands of abundance . . . .and he will dine with the king as an adopted son. And I fully believe that each time David gazed upon that man at his table he saw him with tenderness, dressed head-to-toe in the covenant promise he had shared with Jonathan.

The InvitationI am so certain that by this time you are seeing the parallels between you and me and Mephibosheth that I don’t even need to point them out to you.  Sweet One, we might as well get t-shirts printed with “ I am Mephibosheth” printed on them because it couldn’t be any clearer.

  • David searched for someone to bless with the covenant.  He even sent someone to deliver the good news and bring him home.

Is that not what your Savior has done for you?  Has he not wanted to bring you into covenant relationship with Himself so badly that He sent someone out with the good news to find you and bring you home. (Luke 19:10; Matthew 18:11, 1 Timothy 1:15)

  • It was made plain to David that the one he was going after was not worth his effort.  He was crippled from the fall and that made him an enemy of the king.

And so Beloved, what about you and I?  Was it not made plain that we were not worth the effort?  That we were crippled from the fall and living in the lame condition of our sin.  Both our lineage and our present condition made us enemies of the King.  But yet He came for us. (Romans 5:10; James 4:4)

  • He sent someone to our Lo-Debar, our dry and fruitless land and just as surely as King David blessed Mephibosheth with the land of plenty, we have been ushered into abundance. 

Given an unexpected, undeserved, unearned inheritance.  Fruitful and full of life.  (1 Corinthians 2:9; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:23-24; John 15:5)

  • And just like Mephibosheth, I have not –you have not—done a thing to earn a seat at the table of the King of Kings. 

And yet, we have been adopted and welcomed to the feast as daughters of the King. (1 John 3:1; Ephesians 1:5)

All of this, not because of who I am, but because of WHO I belong to. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

For when the Father gazes at me, He sees me dressed head-to-toe in Jesus the Son He loves.   My covenant relationship with Christ is my invitation to dine at the King’s table. (Galatians 3:27; Colossians 3:3)

Do you see it?  The invitation is FOR YOU.

www.bigstock.com 46135957

Can you even stand it?  Who but God shows Himself in the details this way?  Who but the Father would bother to communicate it to the simplest among us?  I am about beside myself!  I hope you are too.  It’s so my prayer that with every post you read, you see Him in His Word and you marvel at the great and glorious God He is. From Old Testament to New, our God does not change and our Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Oh Girlfriend — my RSVP is YES!

So, maybe not the way I expected to receive my invitation to dine at the King’s table for the upcoming year, but again my Sweet Florida Girl is spot on – He always exceeds our expectations.

And I’m not sure how it will all unfold or what it will look like but I do know this, it’s going to be more . . . more intense, more passionate, and more powerful than what I am prepared for.  I’m going to take comfort in the fact that even if I’m prompted to remind God “of who I am” like Mephibosheth did, it won’t cause Him to withdraw. And, I’m going to remember as I sit in my chair with the condition of my fall still dangling under the table — He sees the new woman, brought to life, and beautiful in the Name of Jesus.

Girlfriend, I know this message was meant to prompt me and it may not be striking your heart with same kind of ferocity it did mine, but I hope you are encouraged to pull up your own chair – the one reserved especially for you – and dine with the King.  Feast on the unexpected, undeserved, unearned blessings set before you.  Consume the Bread of Life and drink in the Living Water.

Oh what a year it will be!  I am giddy with anticipation and I cannot wait until you pull a chair up next to mine in Glory and tell me all that transpired for you as you dined at the King’s Table.  What a glorious day it will be!

The Angel said to me, “Write this:

‘Blessed are those invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.’”

He added, “These are the true words of God!” 

Revelation 19:9

(Special thanks to Kay Arthur for getting my wheels turning with Covenant: God’s Enduring Promises)

Circumstances Do Not Change . . . We Do!

28 Jan

Our circumstances envelope us.  They engulf us.  They consume us.  Too often my circumstances pull my actions and my attention to places I never intended to visit.  I find myself in the middle of my own mind commotion solving issues, mulling conflicts, and traveling a general thought path that serves no one well.  I’ve written some posts over the last year describing some of the circumstances that have occurred in life and I pray that I have highlighted the activity of the Extraordinary in the life of the very ordinary residents of Biddinger Boulevard.

If God’s drawn you to Glimpsed Glory on other occasions you know that my Man has been a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the nipple line down, for the last 20 years. And you also know that even though he’s been in that chair for all these years, in my eyes, he stands taller than any man I know.

meandmylovefortyeight

For “his population” (a term we learned early in his rehabilitation which is never followed by what most would consider favorable statistics) his health has been good.  He’s in constant pain that the doctor’s can’t pinpoint the source of because his spinal cord doesn’t transmit the pain signals the way it should anymore.  He takes enough medicine to choke a horse on a daily basis to try and control a body that just won’t behave the way he wants it to.  And the joints in his shoulders ache constantly from using them to walk.  But for “his population” . . . .Brett

And again, if God has drawn you to Glimpsed Glory before you are aware that my Man is my biggest protector and the Warrior on my WallHe takes up the sword of God’s word and swings it with a surgeon’s precision in prayer every single day.  Over and over and over again –every day—he takes up his position on that wall and he fights.  I wrote these words about him during a hospital stay in March and they are every bit as true today.

That’s who my man is.  Behind the spine that won’t cooperate with his brain anymore, past the legs that will not listen to the signal to move, beyond the hands that refuse to obey his command . . HE IS A WARRIOR.  He is a protector.  He is about the business of listening to the Commander and standing guard at the wall so that his family and friends can safely go to their own work.  Every day, as surely as you rise from your bed and check off the tasks on your to-do-list, my man arises, grabs his sword and takes up his station. Oh how I praise God for the commitment He has given Brett to fight. (Warrior on My Wall, March 8)

God has truly raised Brett up to be a force for His Kingdom but that just wasn’t the way the whole thing began.  We weren’t believers when Brett was injured.  I have no doubt, Brett has no doubt, that the Hand and the Heart of God were definitely with us, but we were most certainly not with Him.

No, Sister, my Warrior and I did not begin this journey acknowledging Christ as our Comfort, our Sustainer, or our FriendIn fact, we began this journey by running from it.  We ran as hard as we could to try and get away from the reality of it all.  It was so much to take in without Jesus.  Everything changed.  Nothing was normal.  We had no direction. . . . but we still ran.

It won’t serve you well or edify you in any way to share all the details of that time period, but this will encourage your heart.

No matter how hard we tried to escape our reality,

now matter how far we ran . . .

it was not further than the Heart of God was willing to go.

In all of our running, He was still pursuing us.  He met me, He met Brett, knee deep in our circumstances.  Some we had created ourselves and others we had not.  Regardless of the origin of our situation, God appeared.  He swooped down from heaven and He saved us. He intervened in ways that can only be described as miraculous because Girlfriend . . . that is what He does because that is Who He is.  He is the God who does not change and the Savior who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Consider Hagar who reacted badly to a bad situation and ran from the reality of her circumstance.

And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. Genesis 16:4-6

But she could not flee further than the Heart of God was willing to go.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. Genesis 16:7

Consider Moses who killed an Egyptian and he ran from the reality of his sin.

One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.  Exodus 2:11-15

But he could not outrun the Heart of God.

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.  Exodus 3:1-2

And then there is Peter who denied the Messiah he professed to love and fled the courtyard filled with shame.

 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:69-75

But he could not flee the Love of Messiah.

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. John 21:1

From the Old Testament to the New, God’s children have been running from their realities, fleeing from their circumstances, only to find that His Heart willingly comes after them.  And Sister, He does not change.

He will appear, He will find, He will speak to His children in the midst of it all and He will open our hearts so we can discern His Presence, hear His voice and truly see Him.

Hagar’s eyes were opened and she saw the One who sees her.  Her heart was opened and she knew the One that fixed His Heart on her . . .

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,”for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Genesis 16:13

Moses turned to see the fire of God and His ears were opened to His call.  His heart was opened to respond “Here I am” to the Great I AM. . .

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:4

And Peter, who had gone out in disgrace, followed a heart that prompted him to run to Jesus. . . .

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. John 21:7

And Beloved, when the Lord of Lord and King of Kings meets us where we are—no matter what has brought us there –and stirs our hearts toward Him, that’s when change takes place. When He reveals the Who of Him, when He allows us to glimpse His Glory, and when He peels back the veil so that we may see Him that, Dear One, is when change occurs . . .

not a change in our circumstance, a change in us.

Hagar saw the One who sees her and was directed back to her mistress.  Moses heard the Voice from the flames and was told to return to EgyptPeter ate with the Messiah and was told go “feed my sheep.”

Their circumstances were not changed but their hearts were.

Oh Beloved, this is my story.  This is my Warrior’s story.  As badly as he wanted to flee from his reality, as hard as he ran, He could not go further than the Heart of God was willing to go.

The Lord Himself jumped from the pages of His Word and opened the eyes of Brett’s heart to see Him.  He did not heal Brett’s spinal cord, but He healed His heart.  He did not restore his legs, but He restored His soul.  He did not return Brett’s finger function, but He wrapped those hands that would not cooperate in the earthly realm tightly around that Warrior Sword for the heavenly battle.  And he did not raise Brett up from that chair, but He did raise Him to life.

Brett’s circumstances did not, have not, changed . . . but he has.  The one who ran from the Lord now stakes out His position on the wall and stands firm.  The one who fled now fights.  All because the One to whom the battle belongs revealed Himself as the Giver of Brett’s strength, his defense, and His salvation.

Sword-Of-The-Spirit-941650Exodus 15:2-3

“The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name.

Do you see the Love of it all?

In His Sovereignty, He may or He may not remove us from our circumstances, only He knows what will serve the Kingdom plan best, but Sweet One whatever your reality is, however far you may have run, you can count on the Heart of God to come looking.  And if He sends us back to our circumstance, we can be absolutely certain that we do not go alone nor do we return to simply “gut it out” in His Name.  He did not save us and then leave us to hang on by our fingernails and grit our teeth until Glory.  No Girlfriend. 

If He sends us back, we return changed.  We return more than conquerors. . . equipped for the battle . . . with His promises in our hands and His Glory at our backs.   We return, from however far we ran, having been found by the Heart of the Living God,  ready not only to survive, but dare I say, to thrive!

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