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JESUS HAD STORMS . . . WE HAVE JESUS!

25 Aug

John 12:22-28

22-23 Philip went and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip together told Jesus. Jesus answered, “Time’s up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

24-25 “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

26 “If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.

27-28 “Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’”  The Message

Sisters, these were the words of Jesus as He contemplated the Cross. “Storm-tossed” seems a small term to describe the agony He was about to endure but is it not one we can identify with? The storm of sickness, loss, disappointment? We encounter what we often see as the less-than moments in life and we feel tossed about by our situation.  The water may calm briefly but before we know it the waves have crashed over us again and the tide is rising around our necks.

How often do you and I react with nothing but a strong desire to get out from under the waves and crawl up on the beach?  How often do we long to pop open a beach umbrella and simply sit with our toes in the warm sand, to just be done with the thing rather than ache to fulfill the purpose for which He has sent us . . . especially when our purpose might require suffering?

Do I have what it takes to remain in the water even when I can’t see why in the world I needed to leave my comfortable spot in the sand?  Will you and I stay put, no matter how dark the sky becomes or how choppy the waves, and trust Him to be our Rescuer?

Do we have the courage to live with the pain and strain this temporal world so often dishes out to be part of the kingdom story, the better story, the love story of God?  The answer to this question is absolutely YES! with Jesus

The same Jesus who uttered these words, who stood firm in the face of every life storm . . . lives within us. It is He who will provide the ache, the courage, and the holy desire to fulfill our purpose. He will never leave us to face the waves or stormy waters alone.

God held the water back and led His people through without a single foot slipping.  He’ll do the same for you.  He’ll do the same for me. He will hold despair to the left and sorrow to the right; guiding us through on solid ground straight into the arms of Jesus.

And if we stand at the water’s edge and it seems those stormy seas are refusing to part, then we know and we believe with everything we are that our Jesus is going to pull us to the very top of those murky depths and place our precious feet on top of every wave.

Girlfriend, you hang on to Him as that water rises.  And you know, to the marrow of your bones that if that water doesn’t part, if He doesn’t calm that storm with His hand or speak a word to send those waves away, then your Jesus plans to swoop from heaven straight into your circumstance and lead you through in a blaze of glory because Sister, no life storm can take us where the hand of Jesus cannot reach us!

creation swap storm hand Danielle Hartland 1374

#HeismyLifeGuard

 

The Promise of God . . . is to be God

25 Jun

This past National Day of Prayer I was blessed with the opportunity to worship with a group of believers in Carson City, Michigan. The message was followed by local pastors and representatives from various church bodies leading those present to lift up the community, those who protect and serve, and our nation as a whole. It was beautiful to watch the Body come together with one voice to offer praises and petitions before the Throne.

The message focused primarily on the promise of God to be exactly who He says He will be and the assurance, the complete joy we have, when we rest in Him being Him. Clicking on the heading “National Day of Prayer” will let you listen to the thoughts I shared that evening. I’ve included the Scripture highlighted because that’s where the power is and a written summary of the final moments of the message right beneath the audio link.

⇓To listen to the message click the heading below⇓

National Day of Prayer Message

I pray that the promise of God to be God will encourage your heart today.

creation swap joy 3498_climbing ribbet

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’  Jeremiah 33:3

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11

So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people. Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” 12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:6-16

Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 1 Kings 8:28

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:21

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. FOR IF YOU REMAIN SILENT at this time relief, and deliverance will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  Esther 4:14

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  Mark 10:27

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.   Jeremiah 32:17

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. Acts 17:26

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

The promise of prayer is . . . that God will be God.

And Friends make no mistake that God being God is . . .

  • Always more than we can imagine.
  • God being God is always more than we have the unction to comprehend.
  • God being God – is always More than . . . and you can fill in the blank.

God will do and be more than we can think or imagine because that’s WHO GOD is – He is the God of More –He does more because He is more.

  • He is the More who hovered over the waters when the land and the sea were commanded to appear
  • He is the More who called out the stars one by one
  • He is the More who parted the Red Sea and held the water at bay to the left and to the right
  • He is the More who led them to the Promised Land
  • He is the More who took on Flesh to walk among us
  • He is the More who became sin on the Cross
  • He is the More who defeated death and arose from the Tomb
  • And He is the More who leans from heaven to hear your every prayer

When we rejoice in our homes and our praises reach His ears . . .

17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet YOU in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zephaniah 3:17

  •  Shouts of joy! The God of More will not be silenced where you are concerned!

When we struggle against the prowling lion who seeks to devour our communities the Voice of Victory speaks and the Lion of Judah roars through our hearts declaring that we are more than a conquerors!

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31

  •  Our Jesus cannot be defeated! The God of More will not surrender!

And when we weep, rather for our nation, our neighbor, or ourselves we know that our Advocate sits on High and the One who has called us His own, Job assures us . . . weeps with us.

19 Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. 20 My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; 21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend. Job 16:19-21

The Spirit Himself will plead our case. The God of More will hear the 1 Kings 8:28 cry of His servant in His presence!

And His heart will be moved . . . to be God.

So for our nation tonight we summon the courage to accept that we have come to our royal position for such a time as this . . .

  • We exercise our privilege and enter the Throne Room,
  • We carry out our purpose, Asking and Receiving
  • And We rejoice in the promise of complete joy

Not in the promise of the yes, not the promise of doing it our way, but the Promise of God to always be who He says He is . . The God of More.

The God of More

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

Many thanks to BibleGateway for making Scripture so accessible!

We will Resemble what we Pursue

1 May

The words of God through the pen of the Prophet Jeremiah echo in my ears this morning . . . “They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.” Bunny paraphrase – you will resemble what you pursue.

That is not new to you Dear One. You know it to be true. Whatever you or I choose to fix our eyes on will direct our footsteps. But we can’t fool ourselves for one moment into thinking we’re simply grabbed by the nose and dragged down the primrose path. No, in most—if not every—instance we travel that road all too willingly.

creation swap worthless suitcase 26527_Wandering

We may not begin the journey with determined steps toward whatever shiny bauble has averted our gaze but it doesn’t take long until we’re making deliberate strides toward the thing.  And I know it may sound harsh and it may sting our hearts but the truth of the matter is that if we had been intentional, if we had made the conscious choice, to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith . . . if we had chosen to keep in lockstep with the Spirit . . . we’d never find ourselves hot on the heels of the worthless thing and becoming worthless ourselves.

See Sister, that’s just not our destiny. Our destiny as believers and full-throttle followers of Jesus Christ is to keep our thoughts fixed on our Messiah and our eyes hard-and-fast on Him so that as we behold His glory we are transformed and little by little reflect the same image as the One who is absolutely Worthy.

18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. 2 Corinthians 3:18

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Sweet One, we serve no one well when we settle for less than God created us to be . . . when we allow ourselves to be distracted by the fading sparkle of this world. He has reserved far too much for us for us to dissuade so easily!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

He calls us to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on Him not because He’s on an ego trip. God does not need our attention to be secure in being God. He invites us to look upon Him, to walk with Him, to be resolute in pursuing the holy life for our benefit.

Within the boundary of holy living lies the blessing.

Again, this is not news to you. Even if you’ve not read the Scriptures that flat out tell us the boundary lines have fallen for us in pleasant places or that we are hemmed in before and behind by the Hand of Glory, you know it by experience, I know it by experience.

And yet, you and I can look back over our lives and see the times we willfully walked outside His borders and ignored the Voice of Love asking us to keep our feet firmly planted and our eyes steadfastly focused. The outcome wasn’t good. The result was certainly not blessing. . . and might it be that when we pursued the things of this world the aftermath of the chase left us feeling empty and worn-out? Because we had not chosen, had not predetermined, to stand firm had we indeed chosen to move ever closer to becoming worthless?

Beloved, I will never practice life within the holy boundaries by accident. My pursuit, and may I be so bold Sister as to say yours as well, must be deliberate. The distance between temptation and participation is far too narrow for us to leave it to chance. We must be determined to live with our eyes fixed on our Savior and our hearts filled with the Holy Spirit . . . aware of our boundaries and resolved to live inside the blessing.

The next shiny object is just around the corner. The next opportunity to be distracted is never far off and another chance to follow and therefore become what is worthless looms in the distance.

Girlfriend, I may not know the specifics of your struggle or the identity of the thing that competes for your attention, but this I do know . . . if you will fix your eyes firmly on Him it will be Grace that you see looking back.  Gaze upon Him and you will be face-to-face with the Worthy One who has stooped from His Throne to lavish you with His attention and affection.  Lean in close and your heart will hear the Voice of Love spurring you on in your pursuit, assuring you that no daughter of the King is destined for a worthless life, whispering to your soul that you are of infinite value to Him and declaring from the Cross  . . . “She is worth it!”

CREATION SWAP worthy CROSS SILHOUETTE 26681_silhouette_of_cross_alone

 

Lessons from Lent: Day 40

4 Apr

 

creation swap lessons from lent coffee cup Kelly Sikkema 22940

An Explanation of Lessons from Lent

In the next 40 days (you’ve made it Sweet Sister — 39 days are under your belt and this is the final day!), the weeks leading up to Easter, the posts on Glimpsed Glory will be different. I am reading through the New Testament during this time and I am hoping the Holy Spirit will lead me to a fresh revelation each and every day. I’m going into it with a prayerful heart and an expectant spirit but I will fully confess to you that my soul feels sluggish.

I have been in a place of exhaustion over these last months. My mind has been clouded, my body has ached and insomnia has been my companion since late December. The enemy has been and is still whispering in my ear that my Jesus has forgotten me . . . that He has finally tired of my imperfections and left me behind.

I’m not giving in to it! I am going to fight the good fight of faith and follow the example of my Nehemiah Man. I am going to stand firm in my faith because if I do not, I will not stand at all. I’m praising God for bringing me to a place of emptiness so that I can look to Him to fill my cup.

I’m coming before the Lord and I’m asking Him to do a new thing in me. To rouse my heart to His side and to draw me near in real and tangible ways. To plow through the fog that has settled over me in the form of health issues, physical stress, and emotional upheaval and lay a level path before me. I’m entering the throne room and I’m humbly reminding Him that He has invited me to come in my time of need. O Lord – be near to me. Love me where I am. Take me where I need to be.

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That’s the cry of my heart Sweet Sister and I’m thinking that if I am in this place that perhaps you are too. It might be that different life situations have brought us here but here we are. If that’s the case, I want you to know that you are not alone and that you have a faith sister to walk through it with. We can do this together – you and I. It’s why God gave us to one another. We can join our hearts and we can offer up the next 40 days to the Beautiful One and trust Him to do the beautiful thing in us.

So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll post the daily reading on the blog (except for Sundays) and if you read the Scriptures not only will you have read through the entire New Testament by Easter but God promises that He’ll show you deep and unsearchable things you do not know. He promises that His word is alive and active and will transform your heart. I could use some transformation. What about you?

At the end of the daily passage, I’m going to share my “Lesson from Lent” – nothing long or drawn out just something that God uses to speak straight to my heart from the Scripture that day. I’m putting it at the end because if your time runs short on a particular day – I want you to skip reading my words, not His.

I’m hoping that you’ll start your own running record of what God is showing you. Maybe you’ll even be moved to leave a comment so your Sisters can glean from what you’re learning. No matter how you choose to keep track of all He shares with you . . . treasure it up in your heart Sweet One, meditate on it, mull it over, consider the whisper of the Lover of your soul. The God of the Universe is the only Voice we need to revive our tired souls. So, let’s you and I lean in close, pray for ears to hear and hearts to respond. Let’s dig in to the riches He has given us and prepare to be amazed by what He will reveal to our expectant hearts. O Sister, let’s boldly ask Him for a lesson from Lent and then brace ourselves for a glimpse of Glory!

Day Forty

April 3, 2015 ~~ Revelation 8-16

Amplified Bible

Footnotes: I’ve left the footnotes in place if you would like to track down sources in word study and language. Please follow the link to each chapter and scroll to the bottom of the passage.

Revelation 17

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls then came and spoke to me, saying, Come with me! I will show you the doom (sentence, judgment) of the great harlot (idolatress) who is seated on many waters,

[She] with whom the rulers of the earth have joined in prostitution (idolatry) and with the wine of whose immorality (idolatry) the inhabitants of the earth have become intoxicated.

And [the angel] bore me away [rapt] in the Spirit into a desert (wilderness), and I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast that was all covered with blasphemous titles (names), and he had seven heads and ten horns.

The woman was robed in purple and scarlet and bedecked with gold, precious stones, and pearls, [and she was] holding in her hand a golden cup full of the accursed offenses and the filth of her lewdness and vice.

And on her forehead there was inscribed a name of mystery [with a secret symbolic meaning]: Babylon the great, the mother of prostitutes (idolatresses) and of the filth and atrocities and abominations of the earth.

I also saw that the woman was drunk, [drunk] with the blood of the saints (God’s people) and the blood of the martyrs [who witnessed] for Jesus. And when I saw her, I was utterly amazed and wondered greatly.

But the angel said to me, Why do you wonder? I will explain to you the [secret symbolic meaning of the] mystery of the woman, as well as of the beast having the seven heads and ten horns that carries her.

The beast that you saw [once] was, but [now] is no more, and he is going to come up out of the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and proceed to go to perdition. And the inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been recorded in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world will be astonished when they look at the beast, because he [once] was, but [now] is no more, and he is [yet] to come.

This calls for a mind [to consider that is packed] with wisdom and intelligence [it is something for a particular mode of thinking and judging of thoughts, feelings, and purposes]. The seven heads are seven hills upon which the woman is sitting;

10 And they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one still exists [and is reigning]; the other [the seventh] has not yet appeared, and when he does arrive, he must stay [but] a brief time.

11 And as for the beast that [once] was, but now is no more, he [himself] is an eighth ruler (king, head), but he is of the seven and belongs to them, and he goes to perdition.

12 Also the ten horns that you observed are ten rulers (kings) who have as yet received no royal dominion, but together they are to receive power and authority as rulers for a single hour, along with the beast.

13 These have one common policy (opinion, purpose), and they deliver their power and authority to the beast.

14 They will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will triumph over them; for He is Lord of lords and King of kings—and those with Him and on His side are chosen and called [elected] and loyal and faithful followers.

15 And [the angel further] said to me, The waters that you observed, where the harlot is seated, are races and multitudes and nations and dialects (languages).

16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will [be the very ones to] hate the harlot (the idolatrous woman); they will make her cheerless (bereaved, desolate), and they will strip her and eat up her flesh and utterly consume her with fire.

17 For God has put it into their hearts to carry out His own purpose by acting in harmony in surrendering their royal power and authority to the beast, until the prophetic words (intentions and promises) of God shall be fulfilled.

18 And the woman that you saw is herself the great city which dominates and controls the rulers and the leaders of the earth.

Revelation 18

Then I saw another angel descending from heaven, possessing great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his radiance and splendor.

And he shouted with a mighty voice, She is fallen! Mighty Babylon is fallen! She has become a resort and dwelling place for demons, a dungeon haunted by every loathsome spirit, an abode for every filthy and detestable bird.

For all nations have drunk the wine of her passionate unchastity, and the rulers and leaders of the earth have joined with her in committing fornication (idolatry), and the businessmen of the earth have become rich with the wealth of her excessive luxury and wantonness.

I then heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out from her, my people, so that you may not share in her sins, neither participate in her plagues.

For her iniquities (her crimes and transgressions) are piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her wickedness and [her] crimes [and calls them up for settlement].

Repay to her what she herself has paid [to others] and double [her doom] in accordance with what she has done. Mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed [for others].

To the degree that she glorified herself and reveled in her wantonness [living deliciously and luxuriously], to that measure impose on her torment and anguish and tears and mourning. Since in her heart she boasts, I am not a widow; as a queen [on a throne] I sit, and I shall never see suffering or experience sorrow—

So shall her plagues (afflictions, calamities) come thick upon her in a single day, pestilence and anguish and sorrow and famine; and she shall be utterly consumed (burned up with fire), for mighty is the Lord God Who judges her.

And the rulers and leaders of the earth who joined her in her immorality (idolatry) and luxuriated with her will weep and beat their breasts and lament over her when they see the smoke of her conflagration.

10 They will stand a long way off, in terror of her torment, and they will cry, Woe and alas, the great city, the mighty city, Babylon! In one single hour how your doom (judgment) has overtaken you!

11 And earth’s businessmen will weep and grieve over her because no one buys their freight (cargo) any more.

12 Their merchandise is of gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls; of fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet [stuffs]; all kinds of scented wood, all sorts of articles of ivory, all varieties of objects of costly woods, bronze, iron, and marble;

13 Of cinnamon, spices, incense, ointment and perfume, and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, fine flour and wheat; of cattle and sheep, horses and conveyances; and of slaves (the bodies) and souls of men!

14 The ripe fruits and delicacies for which your soul longed have gone from you, and all your luxuries and dainties, your elegance and splendor are lost to you, never again to be recovered or experienced!

15 The dealers who handled these articles, who grew wealthy through their business with her, will stand a long way off, in terror of her doom and torment, weeping and grieving aloud, and saying,

16 Alas, alas for the great city that was robed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, bedecked and glittering with gold, with precious stones, and with pearls!

17 Because in one [single] hour all the vast wealth has been destroyed (wiped out). And all ship captains and pilots, navigators and all who live by seafaring, the crews and all who ply their trade on the sea, stood a long way off,

18 And exclaimed as they watched the smoke of her burning, What city could be compared to the great city!

19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and grieved, exclaiming, Woe and alas, for the great city, where all who had ships on the sea grew rich [through her extravagance] from her great wealth! In one single hour she has been destroyed and has become a desert!

20 Rejoice (celebrate) over her, O heaven! O saints (people of God) and apostles and prophets, because God has executed vengeance for you upon her!

21 Then a single powerful angel took up a boulder like a great millstone and flung it into the sea, crying, With such violence shall Babylon the great city be hurled down to destruction and shall never again be found.

22 And the sound of harpists and minstrels and flute players and trumpeters shall never again be heard in you, and no skilled artisan of any craft shall ever again be found in you, and the sound of the millstone shall never again be heard in you.

23 And never again shall the light of a lamp shine in you, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall never be heard in you again; for your businessmen were the great and prominent men of the earth, and by your magic spells and poisonous charm all nations were led astray (seduced and deluded).

24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all those who have been slain (slaughtered) on earth.

Revelation 19

After this I heard what sounded like a mighty shout of a great crowd in heaven, exclaiming, Hallelujah (praise the Lord)! Salvation and glory (splendor and majesty) and power (dominion and authority) [belong] to our God!

Because His judgments (His condemnation and punishment, His sentences of doom) are true and sound and just and upright. He has judged (convicted, pronounced sentence, and doomed) the great and notorious harlot (idolatress) who corrupted and demoralized and poisoned the earth with her lewdness and adultery (idolatry). And He has avenged (visited on her the penalty for) the blood of His servants at her hand.

And again they shouted, Hallelujah (praise the Lord)! The smoke of her [burning] shall continue to ascend forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities).

Then the twenty-four elders [of [a]the heavenly Sanhedrin] and the four living creatures fell prostrate and worshiped [paying divine honors to] God, Who sits on the throne, saying, Amen! Hallelujah (praise the Lord)!

Then from the throne there came a voice, saying, Praise our God, all you servants of His, you who reverence Him, both small and great!

After that I heard what sounded like the shout of a vast throng, like the boom of many pounding waves, and like the roar of terrific and mighty peals of thunder, exclaiming, Hallelujah (praise the Lord)! For now the Lord our God the Omnipotent (the All-Ruler) reigns!

Let us rejoice and shout for joy [exulting and triumphant]! Let us celebrate and ascribe to Him glory and honor, for the marriage of the Lamb [at last] has come, and His bride has prepared herself.

She has been permitted to dress in fine (radiant) linen, dazzling and white—for the fine linen is (signifies, represents) the righteousness (the upright, just, and godly living, deeds, and conduct, and right standing with God) of the saints (God’s holy people).

Then [the angel] said to me, Write this down: Blessed (happy, [b]to be envied) are those who are summoned (invited, called) to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me [further], These are the true words (the genuine and exact declarations) of God.

10 Then I fell prostrate at his feet to worship (to pay divine honors) to him, but he [restrained me] and said, Refrain! [You must not do that!] I am [only] another servant with you and your brethren who have [accepted and hold] the testimony borne by Jesus. Worship God! For the substance (essence) of the truth revealed by Jesus is the spirit of all prophecy [the vital breath, the inspiration of all inspired preaching and interpretation of the divine will and purpose, including both mine and yours].

11 After that I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse [appeared]! The One Who was riding it is called Faithful (Trustworthy, Loyal, Incorruptible, Steady) and True, and He passes judgment and wages war in righteousness (holiness, justice, and uprightness).

12 His eyes [blaze] like a flame of fire, and on His head are many kingly crowns (diadems); and He has a title (name) inscribed which He alone knows or can understand.

13 He is dressed in a robe dyed by [c]dipping in blood, and the title by which He is called is The Word of God.

14 And the troops of heaven, clothed in fine linen, dazzling and clean, followed Him on white horses.

15 From His mouth goes forth a sharp sword with which He can smite (afflict, strike) the nations; and He will shepherd and control them with a staff (scepter, rod) of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath and indignation of God the All-Ruler (the Almighty, the Omnipotent).

16 And on His garment (robe) and on His thigh He has a name (title) inscribed, king of kings and lord of lords.

17 Then I saw a single angel stationed in the sun’s [d]light, and with a mighty voice he shouted to all the birds that fly across the sky, Come, gather yourselves together for the great supper of God,

18 That you may feast on the flesh of rulers, the flesh of generals and captains, the flesh of powerful and mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all humanity, both free and slave, both small and great!

19 Then I saw the beast and the rulers and leaders of the earth with their troops mustered to go into battle and make war against Him Who is mounted on the horse and against His troops.

20 And the beast was seized and overpowered, and with him the false prophet who in his presence had worked wonders and performed miracles by which he led astray those who had accepted or permitted to be placed upon them the stamp (mark) of the beast and those who paid homage and gave divine honors to his statue. Both of them were hurled alive into the fiery lake that burns and blazes with brimstone.

21 And the rest were killed with the sword that issues from the mouth of Him Who is mounted on the horse, and all the birds fed ravenously and glutted themselves with their flesh.

Revelation 20

Then I saw an angel descending from heaven; he was holding the key of the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and a great chain was in his hand.

And he gripped and overpowered the dragon, that old serpent [of primeval times], who is the devil and Satan, and [securely] bound him for a thousand years.

Then he hurled him into the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and closed it and sealed it above him, so that he should no longer lead astray and deceive and seduce the nations until the thousand years were at an end. After that he must be liberated for a short time.

Then I saw thrones, and sitting on them were those to whom authority to act as judges and to pass sentence was entrusted. Also I saw the souls of those who had been slain with axes [beheaded] for their witnessing to Jesus and [for preaching and testifying] for the Word of God, and who had refused to pay homage to the beast or his statue and had not accepted his mark or permitted it to be stamped on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived again and ruled with Christ (the Messiah) a thousand years.

The remainder of the dead were not restored to life again until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.

Blessed (happy, [a]to be envied) and holy (spiritually whole, of unimpaired innocence and proved virtue) is the person who takes part (shares) in the first resurrection! Over them the second death exerts no power or authority, but they shall be ministers of God and of Christ (the Messiah), and they shall rule along with Him a thousand years.

And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his place of confinement,

And he will go forth to deceive and seduce and lead astray the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth—Gog and Magog—to muster them for war; their number is like the sand of the sea.

And they swarmed up over the broad plain of the earth and encircled the fortress (camp) of God’s people (the saints) and the beloved city; but fire descended from heaven and consumed them.

10 Then the devil who had led them astray [deceiving and seducing them] was hurled into the fiery lake of burning brimstone, where the beast and false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (through the ages of the ages).

11 Then I saw a great white throne and the One Who was seated upon it, from Whose presence and from the sight of Whose face earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.

12 I [also] saw the dead, great and small; they stood before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is [the Book] of Life. And the dead were judged (sentenced) by what they had done [[b]their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims and endeavors] in accordance with what was recorded in the books.

13 And the sea delivered up the dead who were in it, death and Hades ([c]the state of death or disembodied existence) surrendered the dead in them, and all were tried and their cases determined by what they had done [according to their motives, aims, and works].

14 Then death and Hades ([d]the state of death or disembodied existence) were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

15 And if anyone’s [name] was not found recorded in the Book of Life, he was hurled into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21

Then I saw a new [a]sky (heaven) and a new earth, for the former [b]sky and the former earth had passed away (vanished), and there no longer existed any sea.

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, all arrayed like a bride beautified and adorned for her husband;

Then I heard a mighty voice from the throne and I perceived its distinct words, saying, See! The abode of God is with men, and He will live (encamp, tent) among them; and they shall be His people, and God shall personally be with them and be their God.

God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away.

And He Who is seated on the throne said, See! I make all things new. Also He said, Record this, for these sayings are faithful (accurate, incorruptible, and trustworthy) and true (genuine).

And He [further] said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I [Myself] will give water without price from the fountain (springs) of the water of Life.

He who is victorious shall inherit all these things, and I will be God to him and he shall be My son.

But as for the cowards and the ignoble and the contemptible and the cravenly lacking in courage and the cowardly submissive, and as for the unbelieving and faithless, and as for the depraved and defiled with abominations, and as for murderers and the lewd and adulterous and the practicers of magic arts and the idolaters (those who give supreme devotion to anyone or anything other than God) and all liars (those who knowingly convey untruth by word or deed)—[all of these shall have] their part in the lake that blazes with fire and brimstone. This is the second death.

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven final plagues (afflictions, calamities) came and spoke to me. He said, Come with me! I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

10 Then in the Spirit He conveyed me away to a vast and lofty mountain and exhibited to me the holy (hallowed, consecrated) city of Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God,

11 Clothed in God’s glory [in all its splendor and radiance]. The luster of it resembled a rare and most precious jewel, like jasper, shining clear as crystal.

12 It had a massive and high wall with twelve [large] gates, and at the gates [there were stationed] twelve angels, and [on the gates] the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were written:

13 On the east side three gates, on the north side three gates, on the south side three gates, and on the west side three gates.

14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation [stones], and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 And he who spoke to me had a golden measuring reed (rod) to measure the city and its gates and its wall.

16 The city lies in a square, its length being the same as its width. And he measured the city with his reed—12,000 stadia (about 1,500 miles); its length and width and height are the same.

17 He measured its wall also—144 cubits (about 72 yards) by a man’s measure [[c]of a cubit from his elbow to his third fingertip], which is [the measure] of the angel.

18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city [itself was of] pure gold, clear and transparent like glass.

19 The foundation [stones] of the wall of the city were ornamented with all of the precious stones. The first foundation [stone] was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony (or white agate), the fourth emerald,

20 The fifth onyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each separate gate being built of one solid pearl. And the main street (the broadway) of the city was of gold as pure and translucent as glass.

22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Omnipotent [Himself] and the Lamb [Himself] are its temple.

23 And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon to give light to it, for the splendor and radiance (glory) of God illuminate it, and the Lamb is its lamp.

24 The nations shall walk by its light and the rulers and leaders of the earth shall bring into it their glory.

25 And its gates shall never be closed by day, and there shall be no night there.

26 They shall bring the glory (the splendor and majesty) and the honor of the nations into it.

27 But nothing that defiles or profanes or is [d]unwashed shall ever enter it, nor anyone who commits abominations (unclean, detestable, morally repugnant things) or practices falsehood, but only those whose names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Revelation 22

Then he showed me the river whose waters give life, sparkling like crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb

Through the middle of the broadway of the city; also, on either side of the river was the tree of life with its twelve varieties of fruit, yielding each month its fresh crop; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing and the restoration of the nations.

There shall no longer exist there anything that is accursed (detestable, foul, offensive, impure, hateful, or horrible). But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall worship Him [pay divine honors to Him and do Him holy service].

They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.

And there shall be no more night; they have no need for lamplight or sunlight, for the Lord God will illuminate them and be their light, and they shall reign [as kings] forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities).

And he [of the seven angels further] said to me, These statements are reliable (worthy of confidence) and genuine (true). And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His messenger (angel) to make known and exhibit to His servants what must soon come to pass.

And behold, I am coming speedily. Blessed (happy and [a]to be envied) is he who observes and lays to heart and keeps the truths of the prophecy (the predictions, consolations, and warnings) contained in this [little] book.

And I, John, am he who heard and witnessed these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell prostrate before the feet of the messenger (angel) who showed them to me, to worship him.

But he said to me, Refrain! [You must not do that!] I am [only] a fellow servant along with yourself and with your brethren the prophets and with those who are mindful of and practice [the truths contained in] the messages of this book. Worship God!

10 And he [further] told me, Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book and make no secret of them, for the time [b]when things are brought to a crisis and the period of their fulfillment is near.

11 He who is unrighteous (unjust, wicked), let him be unrighteous still; and he who is filthy (vile, impure), let him be filthy still; and he who is righteous (just, upright, in right standing with God), let him do right still; and he who is holy, let him be holy still.

12 Behold, I am coming soon, and I shall bring My wages and rewards with Me, to repay and render to each one just what his own actions and his own work merit.

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last (the Before all and the End of all).

14 Blessed (happy and [c]to be envied) are those who cleanse their garments, that they may have the authority and right to [approach] the tree of life and to enter through the gates into the city.

15 [But] without are the dogs and those who practice sorceries (magic arts) and impurity [the lewd, adulterers] and the murderers and idolaters and everyone who loves and deals in falsehood (untruth, error, deception, cheating).

16 I, Jesus, have sent My messenger (angel) to you to witness and to give you assurance of these things for the churches (assemblies). I am the Root (the Source) and the Offspring of David, the radiant and brilliant Morning Star.

17 The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come! And let him who is listening say, Come! And let everyone come who is thirsty [who is painfully conscious of his need [d]of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened]; and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate, and drink the water of Life without cost.

18 I [personally solemnly] warn everyone who listens to the statements of the prophecy [the [e]predictions and the consolations and admonitions pertaining to them] in this book: If anyone shall add anything to them, God will add and lay upon him the plagues (the afflictions and the calamities) that are recorded and described in this book.

19 And if anyone cancels or takes away from the statements of the book of this prophecy [these [f]predictions relating to Christ’s kingdom and its speedy triumph, together with the consolations and admonitions or warnings pertaining to them], God will cancel and take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the city of holiness (purity and hallowedness), which are described and promised in this book.

20 He Who gives this warning and affirms and testifies to these things says, Yes (it is true). [Surely] I am coming quickly (swiftly, speedily). Amen (so let it be)! Yes, come, Lord Jesus!

21 The grace (blessing and favor) of the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) be [g]with all the saints (God’s holy people, [h]those set apart for God, to be, as it were, exclusively His). Amen (so let it be).

And the Amen rises to Glory

#lessonsfromlent

How appropriate to me that we would receive these final exhortations on this particular day . . .poised between the Cross and the Empty Tomb. Figuratively speaking, yesterday morning none of us would have “inherited all this” but tomorrow morning, we will rise to possess life forever with the Lamb.

We read the descriptions of those who will not be allowed to enter the gates of the New Jerusalem –the “detestable, foul, offensive, impure, hateful, and the horrible”–and we know that apart from Jesus . . . we are them. We, left to our own flesh, would be the lovers of falsehood, the deceivers, the lewd, the adulterers, the unrighteous . . . the hopeless.

The heart knowledge that we have been saved from the punishment we deserve drives me to my knees and the words that are such a source of joy to me ring through my ears . . .

But God.

How much more can He declare His love for us. In these chapters, so filled with symbolism and allegory, the reversal of our destiny could not be more clear. Had we not been given the Living Water at no cost to ourselves, the lake of fire would have been our eternal destination. But God . . .saved us from His wrath and ushered us to safety through the blood of our Sweet Messiah.

Between the Cross and the Empty Tomb we need to remember . . .For God has not appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) 10 Who died for us so that whether we are still alive or are dead [at Christ’s appearing], we might live together with Him and share His life. 1 Thessaloniahs 5:9-10

We deserved punishment, unrelenting agony, destruction, and worst of all separation from God. And yet it was Jesus who suffered it all and covered us with His Love. Our Messiah bled and Grace flowed.

We deserved punishment . . . But God protected.

We deserved destruction . . . But God delivered.

We deserved wrath . . . But God reconciled.

Unmerited favor was placed squarely on your shoulders, squarely on my shoulders, because the Messiah chose to place the Beam across His.

Between the Cross and the Empty Tomb we need to remember . . . But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. Therefore, since we are now justified ([a]acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God. Romans 5:8-9

We read description after description in Revelation 17-22 of the final descent of the children of wrath and no matter what pictures our mind’s eye conjured, I don’t think we can begin to grasp the horror of it all. Does it not push you to a state of reverent worship to get even a small glimpse of what we have been rescued from? We are by nature children of wrath, heirs of God’s indignation . . . But God has made us co-heirs with Jesus Christ.

Between the Cross and the Empty Tomb we need to remember . . .17 And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory. Romans 8:17

Is His compassion not breathtaking?  His love for us beyond measure? What so great a rescue is this that the Son would wear our death so that we might be dressed in life? We’ve earned eternal destruction . . . . But God, who so loved us, blesses with life.

Between the Cross and the Tomb we need to remember . . .But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved ([a]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation). Ephesians 2:4-5

We who merit existing in the dominion of darkness are brought before the Throne to live forever in the Presence of He who is Light. The entrance of Grace, the arrival of Love lifts us as gifts to heaven when the eternal dwelling we’ve earned is the fiery lake that burns and blazes with brimstone. But God has made the way home.

Between the Cross and the Empty Tomb we need to remember . . . 22 Yet now has [Christ, the Messiah] reconciled [you to God] in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in His [the Father’s] presence. Colossians 1:22

I don’t know what the mental picture of Jesus Christ, the Beautiful One, presenting you holy and faultless to the Father does for you, but it overwhelms my heart. The reality of it is beyond me but the feeling of the Messiah stooping down from heaven to lift me before the Throne of God . . . does that not imply He finds me worth it?

Sister, He found you worth it. Drink in those words as you let your mind roll back over the torment of the crucifixion. The pain. The humiliation. The separation between the Father and the Son. If our reading over the last 40 days has revealed anything, it has revealed how utterly unworthy we are . . . But God found us worth it.

Between the Cross and the Empty Tomb we need to remember . . .16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([a]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. John 3:16

Oh Beloved, we shall not perish but shall have everlasting life in the Home God Himself has created for His children. The Hope of Glory  has given His all to usher us Home. Grace has made the way. Mercy has pierced the world timeline so that at the end of the age you and I will enter safely in. Favor, Sweet One, has rested upon the unworthy and the gates of heaven have been opened to those who have cleansed their garments in the blood of the Lamb.

Girlfriend, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last has done it all to bring us Home and between the Cross and the Empty Tomb we need to remember.

creation swap need to remember coffee cup Kelly Sikkema 22940

I need to remember . . . #lessonsfromlent

Praise Precedes the Battle!

5 Jul

 

Praise God for His faithfulness.

Praise Him for His invitation to take Him at His Word.

Praise the I AM that HE IS unfailing Love.

That is my call to arms this morning as I stand tall under the Banner of His Name preparing to march into another day. I did not begin my day with my head held high in His victory. brett coffeeNo Girlfriend, this morning, my feet hit the floor with an attitude – a bad attitude. I didn’t look any different from the outside but on the inside – it was ugly. Worse than bedhead by a long shot. It wasn’t just my hair that was a tangled mess . . .my mind was too. And my eyes weren’t the only things fighting the light of a new day . . .that perfectly described my heart as well.

It’s taking me a while to get my feet back under me since Brett’s hospitalization this time. Things don’t seem to be falling back into any kind of routine the way they normally do and it has me feeling off. “Feeling off” is really a very pretty term for what has not been a very pretty process. The truest words I “spoke” last week were in a text to a friend . . .

“I need Jesus so much.”

And I know she prayed that I would find Him because I’ve found myself in the one place that He is most tangible to me – His Word. Specifically, the New Testament and that’s not my usual way—the New Testament I mean. I most often like to start in the Old Testament and let it lead me to the feet of Christ in the New, then let my mind wonder what the ultimate fulfillment will look like in Glory when faith becomes sight.

But this week I started with the Christ in me. . . . Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I asked Him to fill me with the power of understanding . . .Ephesians 3:16-19

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

To bless me with a mind and a heart guarded by Him . . .Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And to set my heart on things above . . .Colossians 3:1

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (The NLT saysset my sights on the spiritual realities – I love that)

I went to the source of Life Powered by the Spirit – the General Electric Power Company*

– Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians—

It’s the manual for a life filled with His energy, fueled by His strength, and empowered by His Love.

And He did not disappoint me. His truth was there and it brought me much comfort and quieted my heart – but my spirit wouldn’t stay settled. It kept returning to the emotional turmoil in my mind and I kept surrendering to me instead of to the Spirit. I kept mulling things over until everything had become something. Every perceived or real hurt. Every circumstance beyond my control. Every anything that I could make something of, I did. And no matter what emotion it started out as it ended up at angry.

There’s a reason that the Psalmist says

“in your anger do not sin; when you are on your bed, search your hearts and be silent.”  Psalm 4:4

When I lay down at night, I’m more apt to be looking over somebody else’s heart and thinking of all the things they ought to be discovering in their search! My mind is anything but silent and if you let that go unchecked it will take you down some bad roads that dead end at bitterness, unforgiveness, and an unmerciful, judgmental heart.

I think it’s the same warning Paul gives us in Ephesians . . .

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27

The ESV and the NASB both warn against giving the devil an opportunity. If I wallow around in all of that the enemy will certainly use my choice not to immerse my mind in Christ against me. I’m certain of it. And my own flesh will jump right on that train too and help me remember every infraction that has ever pierced my heart. I have to be active in fighting that off or the devil won’t get just one opportunity – he’ll get an avalanche of opportunities. See I don’t just mull in bed at night. I mull in the shower. I mull when I’m driving. I mull and I mull and I mull. . . .if I let myself.

I’m praising God that in this instance I did not indulge myself as long as I have on past occasions. Not this time. This time I picked up my Bible, turned to the Power Manual and I dressed for combat . . .Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

And Sister, I felt every-inch-of-me protected but I did not feel powerful, like I could pick up the Sword, the holy utterance of God, and really wield the thing. Something was missing. I flipped the pages backward in my Bible and prayed the Ephesians 1:17-19 prayer in Bunny paraphrase. . .

Lord, I’m asking that you would bless me with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know you better. Up-close and personal Lord. First hand experiential knowledge Father. Please, open the eyes of my heart. Enlighten me so that I may know the hope to which you have called me and your incomparably great power for all who believe. Show me you Lord.

And I waited. There were no lightning bolts. Nothing to fill in that uneasy, “something is missing” empty spot. I read to the end of Ephesians again. Flipped through some Psalms and read a little in Isaiah with an expectant heart. All good passages, but that surge of the Spirit didn’t fall on any of them.

So I closed my Bible and went to choose a graphic to post as encouragement on the Glimpsed Glory facebook page for the day. This is the image I am absolutely certain God placed in my path:

Worship-is-an-Act-of-War-by-Holley-Gerth-400x400
The statement itself was powerful to me but not as powerful as what happened next. My eyes landed on the Scripture reference in the corner – 2 Chronicles 20. I opened up my Bible and I began to read. . .
The enemies of God have united to form a vast army and they are advancing toward His people. The king brings all of Judah together to seek help from the Lord and petition Him for His protection. And the Lord answers them . . . 2 Chronicles 20:15

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

And He tells them what their part will be . . . 2 Chronicles 20:17

Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

So what did the people of Judah do next? Did they question Him? How is this going to happen? What are you going to do? Did they ask for a battle plan? No. They believed God and they bowed with their faces to the ground and fell down in worship . . . 2 Chronicles 20:19

Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

In a very loud voice. Not a teeth-clenched-jaw-locked “I praise you Lord in my circumstance” . . .oh no – a shout. I’m going to be so bold as to call it a battle cry. And the battle cry continued to ring out early the next morning when the king appointed men, not to wield the bow or spear– to wield the weapon of praise! . . . 2 Chronicles 20:21

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.”

The praise was at the head–leading the way! Not in the middle as it looked like the battle might go their way. Not at the end when they had secured a victory and seen the hand of God defeat their enemies. The praise preceded the battle! Read that again –

PRAISE PRECEDED THE BATTLE!

And as they began to sing and praise, the Lord wiped the enemy out. He gave His people so much plunder in the victory that it took three days for them to carry it all away.

There was my missing piece and my answer to the Ephesians 1:17 prayer for wisdom.

creation swap sun praise kevin carden17054_22559_5 RIBBET2The wise know that they must seek the Lord for help, take up their positions and stand firm. The wise believe the promise of God to deliver them from every enemy . The wise trust God and they are not afraid or discouraged. The wise bow with their faces to the ground and then rise up to shout the praise of the One and Only in a very loud voice. The wise stand protected in the armor of God and give thanks that His love endures forever–even as the enemy advances. The wise shout the battle cry of PRAISE!

And the enemy of their hearts is defeated by the Lover of their souls.

Girlfriend, I will have – you will have—the power-filled life when we have the praise-filled life. One can’t exist without the other. That’s the spiritual reality we live in today—the General Electric Power Company uses the words “praise” and “thanks” over 20 times to confirm it. So raise your voice loud today Sweet Sister, hoist His banner high and proclaim that greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world. Let us take up our position in prayer, stand firm in His Love and let our praise precede our battle!

“Give thanks to the LORD,for his love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 20:21

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(*Thanks for teaching me that acronym so many years ago Frannie. It’s stuck with me since those early days of faith and I’ve used it in almost every Bible study I’ve lead and every conference I’ve spoken at. Love to you Dear Friend.)

He Staggered Not!

29 Jun

Life on Biddinger Boulevard has taught me much. One of the life lessons I know to be true is that for every situation, for every circumstance, a time will come when I will be given the opportunity to let my talk and my walk come together. A favorite Bible teacher of mine describes this as “my theology becoming my reality.” I call these my “Kairos Moments.”

Karios

These moments in time are different from our chronos moments – the time that passes every day without much notice. Kairos moments from the Greek definitions above seem to me to be times that are appointed by God for things to come to a head in my life so I can take full advantage of all He has done — I can see the fruit of His labor manifested in my heart at this fixed, definite, right moment.

Henry Blackaby calls this a “crisis in belief.” Kay Arthur calls it a “crossroads moment.” No matter what title you and I choose to slap on the thing, no matter how differently we may describe them, the fact is every believer has them. Those moments when you come face-to-face with life and you choose:

Will you believe God to be God?

To be all that He has declared Himself to be –the One Who Does Not Change. The One who is always holy, always love, always compassionate, always trustworthy, always just, and always faithful. 

Will we believe Him to be Him every single moment of every single day?

Even the hard moments? The “crisis in belief” moments? The “crossroad” moments?  

Will we believe that He is there, unflinchingly involved in every circumstance, when our hearts won’t recognize it and our eyes cannot see it?

Don’t misunderstand. It’s my belief that for the one who has accepted Christ in their heart and confessed with their mouth that He is Savior and Lord of their life that there is a certain part of every moment that is a “Kairos Moment.” But if God took the time to describe certain points on our personal timeline and even the world timeline differently, then I’m going to follow suit.

Time in God's HandsFor myself, I think of chronos time as the time I am given to prepare for the Kairos Moments. How I invest my chronos will certainly influence the choice I make when “the opportune time, the favorable moment, the time when things are brought to crisis”—the Kiaros Moment—occurs but there is a definite difference between the training ground and the battlefield.

Another thing I want to be certain you hear in these words is that I am well aware that Kairos Moments are in no way limited to 60-second lifebursts. Kairos Moments for some, especially those who have been entrusted with suffering, seem to last for days, weeks, even months. It seems to me that those who live with the Kindgdom assignment to stand firm in a life that demands perseverance of choice – the choice to believe God is there, involved, and working all things for the good of those who love Him—those given that assignment . . . well from my perspective, they come close to living an endless string of Kairos Moments—uniquely poised, standing at the crossroads every day, several times a day . . . choosing.

I live with a Man who has been entrusted with that life and full confession is that I’m certain I would not live it as well as he does. He does not withdraw from God in His choice. Does he question? I’m sure he does. Does he wonder? He must. But he does not withdraw. He continues to stand at the crossroads and he continues to choose God every time.

The words “withdraw from” are translated “staggered” in Romans 4:20 (KJV) to describe Abraham standing firm and believing God at every turn. Abraham asked God questions but he did not withdraw from Him. He stood firm believing God would do all He announced He would do –

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. Romans 4:20-21 KJV

That’s the way Brett lives life . . .He staggers not through unbelief but is strong in his faith, giving glory to God and he is fully persuaded that God will not be dissuaded from being God.

brettcoffee

That’s a powerful life to be on the perimeter of. To see first-hand the warrior spirit God will develop in a willing heart. The Lord is a Warrior and He’s raising His boy up to look just like Him. I know there are times Brett finds himself weary from the fight and aches for rest—I’ve seen the weariness roll down his cheeks. I know there are days when he wants his time on the battlefield to be done because he whispers to me at the end of it “one day closer.”   But he perseveres and he chooses.

He’s just come through such a time – again.

Six days in ICU with a body that would not cooperate. Six days with painful tubes, iv’s, blood draws. Six days with no food and little rest. Six days spent in the war zone fighting the good fight. Six days spent startling the enemy every time he stood at the crossroad and staggered not. Six days . . . . one kairos moment after another. Six days standing firm . . .convinced that God had not and would not abandon him. Fully persuaded that God is able.

And . . . I watched. As the chronos moments ticked by, I watched the kairos moments, one after the other, be lived out in vivid color right before me. And I faced my own choices. I came to my own crossroads. And I chose. Did my mind shout to God to come quickly and heal? Did I wonder why the delay? Did I remind Him that His Word says that He is moved by prayer and hears the plea of His people? Absolutely. And He held me there, in the throne room, and did not let me withdraw. He allowed me to question, to remind in humility and to petition for a different path– but He never let the doubt of His goodness or of His Kingdom purpose find its way into my heart or my mind.

In fact God did the opposite. He showed me the strength He has developed in Brett, in me, and in us. He called us into battle together and we came out stronger than ever. Jars of clay filled with Light convinced of His goodness and His love. Unwavering, staggering not, in the belief that what the evil one meant to harm us God has used to accomplish the good thing. We may be hard pressed on every side but we are not crushed. We may be perplexed but we do not despair for we are not abandoned and we are not struck down.

The very thing the enemy tried to use for our downfall – the unfairness of the situation, the enough-is-enough mentality, the isolation and exhaustion of it all – was beaten back by the very Hand of God and we emerged with the plunder of increased faith and a heightened awareness of His Love. He is today Who He has always been . . . The Able One . . .The God of More.

I wanted to escape this trial with Brett’s physical life. God wanted more for Brett and more for me than simply making it through to the other side. He wanted hearts refined and faith proved genuine in the kairos moment. He wanted us to come from the battlefield knowing that in every situation we are more than overcomers because greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world . He wanted us to know that He has been preparing and pruning us in all the chronos moments of life to emerge as the victors in this “most favorable, most suitable, most opportune” kairos moment.

He sent us into the war zone protected by His full armor, dressed in Jesus head-to-toe . . belt of truth around our waists, breastplate of righteousness firmly in place, feet fitted with the unchanging good news of the gospel, shields of faith in His faithfulness to Himself lifted high extinguishing every flaming arrow no matter how hot, head protected by the saving grace of the full redemption work of Jesus Christ, and the Sword of the Spirit in our hands. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

And at our backs . . .a battalion of soldiers—some close friends we know, others complete strangers from churches we’ve never visited, but each one was storming the heavenlies on our behalf. The saints of God, praying us through and beating on the doors of heaven, moving the very heart of God. And I have to wonder if this sweet picture that I am conjuring of God’s saints gathered together declaring that no weapon forged against us will prevail might be a small piece of what God meant when He told us that His glory would be our rear guard?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.  Isaiah 58:8 (NIV, 1984)

I can’t help but think it is. They are beautiful! The tears fill my eyes when I think of them—

As the for the saints who live in the land, they ARE THE GLORIOUS ONES in whom is all my delight. Psalm 16:3 (NIV, 1984).

Someone jokingly said this past week that we had to be descended from the line of Job and we’ve made the joke ourselves on more than one occasion. But as I contemplate that statement, I’ll take that ancestry and that heritage any day. Because just like Job, who questioned but did not withdraw, we’ve seen God more clearly than we ever would have and we’re closer to being able to say in a holy hush . . .

“Oh Lord, my ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:5

That’s what the Kairos moments do for me. They open my heart so I can see God. They expose my faith and lay it bare. They strengthen my spirit and heighten my love for Him.

Girlfriend, if you’re living your faith out, the Kairos moments will come—the “favorable moment, the appointed time, when it all comes to a head” and “things are brought to crisis.” Do not shrink back. Do not withdraw – be fully persuaded that God will be God.  

Stand firm, sword in hand, battalion at your back declaring for all the heavenlies to hear that your God is able and then Sweet One, you rise up for battle in the Name of Jesus, you believe your God to be Who He has declared Himself to be, and you STAGGER NOT.

Romans 4:20-21

 

Enjoy Life — till it Overflows!

24 May

I spent last weekend with some beautiful women.  Each one dressed in Jesus Christ from the inside out and doing their best to wear Him well.  The conversations shared around tables, over coffee, and in tucked away corners ran the gamut – raucous laughter and poking fun at ourselves to tears shed and hearts laid bare.

My Cup Overflows

My Cup Overflows

To me, that’s true beauty, uncontainable radiance in action.  Sisters doing life together, bonded by heart and bound by soul to other daughters of the King.  Some meeting one another for the first time—not a thing in common but their love for their Jesus.

  • All denominations.
  • All age groups.
  • All manner of occupations.

Each one stretching outside of themselves to connect with His people.  The blessed sisterhood hand-picked for them by the lover of their souls.

This particular conference was called a “Women’s Refresher” rather than a retreat and my mind really enjoyed that change of title.  It gave my heart a sense of expectation and hope.  Hope that we all might walk away with souls renewed, spirits refreshed, and hearts at rest.  With a rejuvenated resolve to stand firm in the face of whatever might lay on the other side of the weekend.  See, I think that

“rest of the soul — refreshed heart” living is the mental expression of our spiritual reality.

Christ came so that we could have life and have it the full.  Not do just a little bit of living, but really go after the thing with all He has created us to be.  The Amplified Bible translates John 10:10 in such a way that I can’t keep the smile from creeping across my face and my heart simultaneously . . .

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they may have and enjoy life,

and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). 

John 10:10 AMP

Isn’t that wonderful – enjoyment of life with the Life Giver.  Abundance that does not change with the ebb and flow of our circumstances.  Life to overflowing that isn’t subject to our limited human vision.

He is the Door to Life.Oh that’s some good news to me.  It means that regardless of how hot the flaming arrow the enemy sends my way may be or what kind of a mess I may walk myself into, God will not change His mind concerning the life His Son purchased for me.  The same is true for you Sweet One and here’s more good news –no matter how many translations I looked at I couldn’t find a single one that said “ I came that they may dig in with their fingernails, grit their teeth, and worry their way into glory.”  Nor could find a translation of John 10:10 with an asterisk indicating that there were exceptions to this verse so you cannot possibly be the one person in all the ages that this passage does not apply to.  See,

we cannot mess it up so badly that God changes His mind about His love for us or about the way He wants to raise us up for Kingdom purposes.

The same God who brought you through fire and water – a wall of despair on the right and a wall of destruction on the left – kept your feet from slipping and delivered you to a place of abundance is alive and well within you this very moment.  And the Spirit of God has not come so you might simply survive—He has come so that you may thrive.

He has crushed the head of your enemy with the heel of Jesus Christ so not one obstacle stands between you and the Father.  Jesus Christ has overcome them all so that you and I, those who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord, can not only approach the throne of grace with confidence – we are welcome to live there!

Do we get that?  I’m not certain I do.  I hope you’re further along in the process than I am because too often I find myself unaware of being in the Presence of God.  I too often confine Him to my “quiet time” or to Sunday mornings and leave behind the all-encompassing knowledge that He is always with me.  And that’s when it begins – hanging on by my fingernails, gritting my teeth, fretting and stewing about life from one day into the next.  I forget God and I remember me and when I’m at the center of me – well, suffice to say nothing goes well.

I put my own slant on life and quickly become consumed by myself—beleaguered by insecurity, embittered by rejection, and eaten alive by someone else’s blessings.  But even then, God does not change His mind concerning me and the Blood of Jesus still flows for me.

Isn’t that something?  Standing before Him, in all my “me”, and He doesn’t change His mind.

Maybe you have those less-than moments too, when you stand before Him in all that is “you” and He doesn’t change His mind.

And we’re left in awe and wondering over and over again, “Oh Lord, why do you love me so?”

When I was beleaguered and bitter,     

totally consumed by envy,

I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox     

in your very presence.

I’m still in your presence,     

but you’ve taken my hand.

You wisely and tenderly lead me,     

and then you bless me.

You’re all I want in heaven!     

You’re all I want on earth!

When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,     

God is rock-firm and faithful.

Look! Those who left you are falling apart!     

Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.

But I’m in the very presence of God—     

oh, how refreshing it is!

I’ve made Lord God my home.     

Psalm 73:23-28 MSG

I want off the merry-go-round that constantly spins me back to the place where I begin and God is forgotten.  I want the life my Pastor calls “present-time-Christ-conscious living.”  Centered on my God, revolving around my Jesus, and led by the Spirit.  Not hit-and-miss, but all day every day—standing so close that the shadow of refreshment falls over me day-by-day, moment-by-moment.

Girlfriend, that’s what we were made for, life in His Presence—His overflowing, to the full, abundant Presence.  So you leave yourself behind, tuck yourself inside the refuge of His wing and make your home there.  Don’t forget where you live for one single moment.  The place of heart refreshment, soul renewal, and spirit rest will not be found apart from Him.  Move through this life so closely connected to Him that His shadow covers you from head-to-toe and in that shade Sister, I promise, based on the authority of His Word, you will find what your heart is longing for.

He who dwells in the shelter

of the Most High

will rest in the shadow of

the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1Picture of Refreshment

This post is part of the #mywritingprocess blog tour. I was invited to participate by the most encouraging young woman I have the privilege of doing cyber life with. You can find her, Spirit-filled and heart full of Jesus, at http://igivegodalltheglory.wordpress.com/. I cannot tell you how amazed I am that God has seen fit to take Glimpsed Glory around the world to more than 70 countries at this point. Oh, how I pray it is encouraging every Sister that visits to stand strong in the faith and to live well in His Name. I’d love it if you would join the journey by following the blog and having new post notifications sent straight to your email. You can also find Glimpsed Glory on facebook with daily encouragement and @glimpsedglory at twitter. Thanks for stopping by and thanks to I give God all the Glory for the opportunity – Keep shouting His praise from the mountaintops Miss Jennifer!

Clean Hands Not Required

26 Apr

Resurrection Sunday has come and gone. The tomb is still empty and Jesus still lives, but I wonder if it might be that some of our heightened awareness of Him may have come and gone with the date on the calendar. I pray that’s not the case – not for me and not for you. I’m praying that our worship is still filled with intense adoration and our praise for Him is fresh every day. And Sister, if we truly recognize the depth of our debt to Him, how can we live any other way?

It’s easy to slide into the “take God for granted” lifestyle, but why would we want to? What keeps us from fighting to stay in a place of God conscious living? Oh the busyness of life drowns Him out too quickly. Hectic schedules vie for our attention and our time slips away. Responsibilities mount and the moments are gone.  Chaotic careers turn our heads – especially if we work in a place where hurt and brokenness are all around us—and the fight slowly slips away. Life simply screams more loudly than that still Small Voice. But when we fail to listen, when we choose not keep our heads turned toward Him – we are the ones who suffer and become empty—empty of Life and empty of Love.

Acts 17:28So what say for this year, you and I link arms and we live, move, and exist in Him just as purposefully and as intentionally after the Easter Season as we did during? What if this year we lingered longer, fought to fuel the fire and kindled afresh the flame at every turn? What if we lived with the same mindful, responsive love the woman who anointed the feet of Christ at Bethany did?

Now one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. Then when a woman of that town, who was a sinner, learned that Jesus was dining at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfumed oil.  As she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfumed oil.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” So Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” He replied, “Say it, Teacher.”

 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon,Do you see this woman? I entered your house. You gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil.

Therefore I tell you, her sins,

which were many, are forgiven,

thus she loved much;

but the one who is forgiven little loves little.”

 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Luke 7:36-48 (NET)

She knew the depth of her need for Him. She knew the condition she longed to be free of and the wounds her heart ached to be healed from.

And she knew . . . that He knew.

And yet, He did not simply choose to allow “the sinner” to touch Him, He welcomed her in His presence. Unheard of in that dispensation of time. Unfathomable that the righteous, the clean would be tainted by the unclean. But . . .

our Jesus does not require clean hands to reach for Him.

Clean hands Not Required to Reach for Jesus.

 He welcomes the outstretched heart of the repentant who recognize their need and desperately grab hold.

I would be so bold as to say that is impossible for those who believe they have clean hands to reach for the Savior. And I think if you’ll back at the passage, that’s exactly what Jesus is saying. When He tells Simon that the one who is forgiven little loves little, He isn’t saying that Simon has little to be forgiven for. Oh no Sweet One. He’s saying that Simon hasn’t realized the enormity of his own sin yet. Unacknowledged sin, excused sin, beats within an unrepentant heart.

Simon shed no tears on the feet of Christ because he felt no godly sorrow. The woman’s sins may have looked different than the sin of self-righteousness and ritualism but both the actions of the woman and the actions of Simon required payment far beyond what either could pay. Only the priceless blood of Christ would ransom either of them.

And Beloved, I think we need to be diligent in fighting the urge to look down on Simon the Pharisee because it might be that there have been times in life when we’ve looked at another and found our hands to be quite clean in comparison. It might be that we’ve had that same haughty heart toward someone who wore their sin on their sleeve a little more plainly.

To be forgiven much or to be forgiven little

is a human perspective on sin – not a godly one.

The debt owed is more than we can comprehend. The magnitude of it is just too much for us to wrap our minds around. And when we begin to get that—to understand that we can’t comprehend the cost let alone hope to pay it on our own—then, I think,

we begin to love.

We begin to love like someone who knows what it is like to be unlovable for we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Our love comes closer to mimicking the love of the One that rescued us because we know He saved us from condemnation. And we remember when we let our tears fall on the feet of Jesus, gave voice to our need and reached out with an unclean hand to our Savior and then, we begin

to love as He loved us.

Sister, let’s be purposeful and intentional in our awareness of Him and what He has done. Let’s not let the changing season turn our gaze away from Him. Let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on the One whose heart is firmly fixed on us.

Yes, Sweet Believer . . .

Let she who has been forgiven much love much.

Let she who knows the touch of Jesus reach for unclean hands.

And let she who is loved—love in His Name.

 Love one another  John 13:34-35

 

“I give you a new commandment—to love one another.

Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—

if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35 (NET)

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

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