Tag Archives: Malachi 3:6

40 Days Receiving Joy

17 Apr

At the beginning of the 40 days of Lent I shared openly that my spirit was feeling sluggish and the enemy was whispering in my ear all manner of lies about the Holy One leaving me behind. I shared just as openly that I wasn’t going to give in to the voice of deception or surrender my God-given joy without a fight and I gave my battle plan a name . . . Lessons from Lent.

Lessons from Lent was the challenge to read through the New Testament in those 40 days leading to Resurrection Sunday and blog each day about whatever lesson God pointed out. Now we’re on the other side of that season and I can tell you that God met me in ways I had never dreamed. Every single day as I read through the Scriptures He spoke to me through His Word and unveiled a treasure I’d not previously seen. I never found myself grasping for something to share or apply in my daily life—the struggle was usually narrowing it down to just one thing. Imagine that . . . I had a lot to say!

It was so wonderful to have the exclamation point of praise put on the first verse I remember totally capturing my heart: “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know” and for the shouts and accolades to reach the ears of what I would say is my life verse in Malachi . . . “I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Is there anything quite as beautiful as Scripture colliding head on with Scripture?

The same God, the One who does not change, who filled my heart with His truth in those first days of faith and thrilled me to no end with Jeremiah 33:3 revelations of His goodness and personal applications to my life was still with me. He still peeled back the curtain to display the riches of His word and He still enthralled me with every syllable. And just like in the early days of running my fingers over the pages and asking Him to let me know Him . . . He showed Himself to be absolute Love to me. And just the same as way back then, I heard myself whisper . . .”Why?—Why do You let me see the Much of You?” It’s the closest I come to joining heart-to-heart with the Psalmist who asked “What is man that you are mindful of him?” and in my imagination, he whispers that phrase with a catch in his voice just like I do.

And I fully believe God has used this trek across the calendar pages to introduce me to the Biblical truth of John 16:24 in a way I could not ignore or pass over quickly. It’s a concept I think He’s had me practicing but hadn’t begun to define for me or given me the unction to begin comprehending until this particular Kairos moment in life. His timing is always perfect . . .

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

God-given joy—complete, filled to individual capacity, secure . . . joy in the Name of Jesus—wasn’t that what I was fighting to keep a hold of? Wasn’t it the joy of my faith, the joy of being in His Presence, the joy of an attentive soul all to the glory of my Covenant Partner that I was considering when I posted the introductory paragraphs that preceded every Lenten blog entry . .

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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I don’t know about you but when I read those lines that introduced the Scripture for the each post as we marched toward the Empty Tomb, they sound a lot like asking . . . Asking God to do the new thing, to rouse my heart, to draw me near . . . no matter what my circumstances might be. So unbeknownst to me, the entire journey was aimed at teaching me the word that lingers in the middle of the verse. The word that lives between the invitation to ask and the gift of joy to the full . . . receive.

Help Word Studies 2983 defines receive this way— lambánō (from the primitive root, lab-, meaning “actively lay hold of to take or receive,” see NAS dictionary) – properly, to lay hold by aggressively (actively) accepting what is available (offered). 2983 /lambánō (“accept with initiative“) emphasizes the volition (assertiveness) of the receiver.

So to receive as God intended it to be understood in this verse is to aggressively and actively lay hold to that which is offered. To make the volitional choice to accept what is available.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

The “receiving” we find here is far from a passive activity.  There’s some work to be done to really possess it—to live in it.  Much different I think than the gift of salvation we believe on Christ for and receive in His Name.

I’ve been as candid as will serve you well about the depth of my sin and I hope I have made it clear –in a no-holds-barred, full out, give Him all the Glory every time kind of way—that my salvation and my rescue was . . . my righteousness and my life are—all because of Him. He swooped down from heaven and pulled me from the depths. He brought me up out of the pit and planted my feet firmly in His freedom. He and He alone lifted me to the spacious place of Grace. The place where Light and Life are abundant.

And with a grateful heart I testify that He has increased my territory just as He has increased my faith and He has shown me the beauty of the land He has given me—the place where boundary and blessing meet. He lifted me up and brought me again to the spacious place, but praise to the Hope of Glory– the scenery on the way out of the cavern I found myself in was so much different. See my God is still God and my unchanging Messiah was ever present as the steadfast Spirit spurred me on but unlike the work of my salvation, this time . . . my participation was required.

I’m praying for God to give me the exact right words as I try to explain this and I remind you before your eyes land on a single syllable, I am not a theologian, a pastor or any kind of formal scholar. I’m a woman who sits at the foot of the Cross and asks to know her Savior better— who enters the Throne room of God and stands in awe that she is welcome there.

The pit I found myself in when I began the Lent journey wasn’t the same one God pulled me from when I began my faith walk. At the time of my salvation the Lion of Judah roared to my rescue and gave me the gift of eternal reconciliation with my Father in heaven. He scaled those smooth walls and carried me out of darkness into the Light. I could add nothing to His grace nor take a thing away from it. I could only repent and admit my need of the perfect salvation He had purchased for me.   He did it all. He never swerved to the left or to the right. He kept His eyes fixed firmly on the will of the Father . . . His Love poured out on the Cross, His Mercy buried in the Tomb, and His Victory secured in His Risen Life – Jesus did it all! He met me in the pit and He carried me to new life . . . life abundant.

The place I found myself in this time didn’t have walls smoothed by premeditated sin and unholy actions. No, this one had walls jagged with circumstance and life issues that pressed in from every side.   And unlike that first pit, this cavern had pieces of Rock jutting out all around me and He had prepared me to follow Him out—to keep in step with the Spirit, to do all things through Christ who strengthens me—and emerge victoriously into the Light.

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He had given me toeholds and lifelines in His Word so that even though the enemy was actively hissing in my ear I could shout the praise of Jesus and silence my foe. I could put my combat boots on and go about the business of working out my salvation with fear and trembling. At His prompting I could put one foot firmly on the foundation of my Eternal Rock, grab hold of the Scripture with my right hand, and strain my eyes toward the Face of my Messiah. By His grace, I could wrap my fingers tightly around the Word, find the foothold of His truth, and move forward by faith, believing that He rewards those who seek Him.

Was God faithful in bringing me up out of the pit – He absolutely was but this was not the salvation swoop from heaven the work-is-done liberation – it was much more a build your faith muscles, stretch your heart, dig in and climb type of a rescue.

And right in the middle of it all, between the asking and the blessing was aggressive, active, volitional receiving.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

If I, if you, desire to hold tight to, to cling to, to live, move, and find our being in joy to the full, then you and I must be willing to go after the thing—to actively and aggressively grab hold of what our Father rescued us to possess.

A passive faith serves no one well.

We must be intentional in laying hold of the holy opportunities to fight the good fight, to train for the race, so that when the day of Christ Jesus comes we will get the prize for which we have been called heavenward. We have to be willing to put our feet in the toeholds of the temporal cavern walls we may find ourselves surrounded by and wrap our fingers around the lifelines of Truth He so graciously provides if we want the spacious place of freedom to be our daily reality.

Our days here on planet earth are all about developing the muscles we’re going to need to hold our heads high when the Good Shepherd places that jewel-laden, faith encrusted crown of glory on our heads. The active process of transformation from one degree of glory to another requires our active participation in combat drills—trials, tough stuff, messy life. Muscles unused never develop. Faith unexercised atrophies. Receiving His All is not for the faint of spirit and aggressive cardio work will be required because Girlfriend, He loves us to much to let us arrive in Glory with a heart that’s out of shape!

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Lessons from Lent: Day Nineteen

11 Mar

creation swap lessons from lent coffee cup Kelly Sikkema 22940

An Explanation of Lessons from Lent

In the next 40 days (22 now because you have already accomplished eighteen), 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 Nineteen

March 11, 2015 ~~ Acts 7-11

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.

Acts 7

And the high priest asked [Stephen], Are these charges true?

And he answered, Brethren and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our forefather Abraham when he was still in Mesopotamia, before he [went to] live in Haran,

And He said to him, Leave your own country and your relatives and come into the land (region) that I will point out to you. So then he went forth from the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. And from there, after his father died, [God] transferred him to this country in which you are now dwelling. Yet He gave him no inheritable property in it, [no] not even enough ground to set his foot on; but He promised that He would give it to Him for a [a]permanent possession and to his descendants after him, even though [as yet] he had no child.

And this is [in effect] what God told him: That his descendants would be aliens (strangers) in a land belonging to other people, who would bring them into bondage and ill-treat them 400 years. But I will judge the nation to whom they will be slaves, said God, and after that they will escape and come forth and worship Me in this [very] place. And [God] made with Abraham a covenant (an agreement to be religiously observed) [b]of which circumcision was the seal. And under these circumstances [Abraham] became the father of Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac [did so] when he became the father of Jacob, and Jacob [when each of his sons was born], the twelve patriarchs.

And the patriarchs [Jacob’s sons], boiling with envy and hatred and anger, sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt; but God was with him, 10 And delivered him from all his distressing afflictions and won him goodwill and favor and wisdom and understanding in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 11 Then there came a famine over all of Egypt and Canaan, with great distress, and our forefathers could find no fodder [for the cattle] or vegetable sustenance [for their households]. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent forth our forefathers [to go there on their] first trip. 13 And on their second visit Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, and the family of Joseph became known to Pharaoh and his origin and race.

14 And Joseph sent an invitation calling to himself Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all. 15 And Jacob went down into Egypt, where he himself died, as did [also] our forefathers; 16 And their [c]bodies [Jacob’s and Joseph’s] were taken back to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of [silver] money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

17 But as the time for the fulfillment of the promise drew near which God had made to Abraham, the [Hebrew] people increased and multiplied in Egypt, 18 Until [the time when] there arose over Egypt another and a different king who did not know Joseph [neither knowing his history and services nor recognizing his merits]. 19 He dealt treacherously with and defrauded our race; he abused and oppressed our forefathers, forcing them to expose their babies so that they might not be kept alive.

20 At this juncture Moses was born, and was exceedingly beautiful in God’s sight. For three months he was nurtured in his father’s house; 21 Then when he was exposed [to perish], the daughter of Pharaoh rescued him and took him and reared him as her own son. 22 So Moses was educated in all the wisdom and culture of the Egyptians, and he was mighty (powerful) in his speech and deeds.

23 And when he was in his fortieth year, it came into his heart to visit his kinsmen the children of Israel [[d]to help them and to care for them]. 24 And on seeing one of them being unjustly treated, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian and slaying [him]. 25 He expected his brethren to understand that God was granting them deliverance by his hand [taking it for granted that they would accept him]; but they did not understand.

26 Then on the next day he [e]suddenly appeared to some who were quarreling and fighting among themselves, and he urged them to make peace and become reconciled, saying, Men, you are brethren; why do you abuse and wrong one another? 27 Whereupon the man who was abusing his neighbor pushed [Moses] aside, saying, Who appointed you a ruler (umpire) and a judge over us? 28 Do you intend to slay me as you slew the Egyptian yesterday?

29 At that reply Moses sought safety by flight and he was an exile and an alien in the country of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. 30 And when forty years had gone by, there appeared to him in the wilderness (desert) of Mount Sinai an angel, in the flame of a burning bramblebush.

31 When Moses saw it, he was astonished and marveled at the sight; but when he went close to investigate, there came to him the voice of the Lord, saying, 32 I am the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob. And Moses trembled and was so terrified that he did not venture to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground and worthy of veneration. 34 Because I have most assuredly seen the abuse and oppression of My people in Egypt and have heard their sighing and groaning, I have come down to rescue them. So, now come! I will send you back to Egypt [as My messenger].

35 It was this very Moses whom they had denied (disowned and rejected), saying, Who made you our ruler (referee) and judge? whom God sent to be a ruler and deliverer and redeemer, by and with the [protecting and helping] hand of the Angel that appeared to him in the bramblebush. 36 He it was who led them forth, having worked wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and during the forty years in the wilderness (desert).

37 It was this [very] Moses who said to the children of Israel, God will raise up for you a Prophet from among your brethren as He raised me up. 38 This is he who in the assembly in the wilderness (desert) was the go-between for the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai and our forefathers, and he received living oracles (words that still live) to be handed down to us.

39 [And yet] our forefathers determined not to be subject to him [refusing to listen to or obey him]; but thrusting him aside they rejected him, and in their hearts yearned for and turned back to Egypt. 40 And they said to Aaron, Make us gods who shall [be our leaders and] go before us; as for this Moses who led us forth from the land of Egypt—we have no knowledge of what has happened to him. 41 And they [even] made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice to the idol and made merry and exulted in the work of their [own] hands.

42 But God turned [away from them] and delivered them up to worship and serve the host (stars) of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: Did you [really] offer to Me slain beasts and sacrifices for forty years in the wilderness (desert), O house of Israel? 43 [No!] You took up the tent (the portable temple) of Moloch and carried it [with you], and the star of the god Rephan, the images which you [yourselves] made that you might worship them; and I will remove you [carrying you away into exile] beyond Babylon.

44 Our forefathers had the tent (tabernacle) of witness in the wilderness, even as He Who directed Moses to make it had ordered, according to the pattern and model he had seen. 45 Our forefathers in turn brought it [this tent of witness] in [with them into the land] with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations which God drove out before the face of our forefathers. [So it remained here] until the time of David, 46 Who found grace (favor and spiritual blessing) in the sight of God and prayed that he might be allowed to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.

47 But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. 48 However, the Most High does not dwell in houses and temples made with hands; as the prophet says, 49 Heaven [is] My throne, and earth the footstool for My feet. What [kind of] house can you build for Me, says the Lord, or what is the place in which I can rest? 50 Was it not My hand that made all these things?

51 You stubborn and stiff-necked people, still heathen and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are always [f]actively resisting the Holy Spirit. As your forefathers [were], so you [are and so you do]! 52 Which of the prophets did your forefathers not persecute? And they slew those who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, Whom you now have betrayed and murdered—53 You who received the Law as it was ordained and set in order and delivered by angels, and [yet] you did not obey it!

54 Now upon hearing these things, they [the Jews] were cut to the heart and infuriated, and they ground their teeth against [Stephen].

55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit and controlled by Him, gazed into heaven and saw the glory (the splendor and majesty) of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand; 56 And he said, Look! I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at God’s right hand!

57 But they raised a great shout and put their hands over their ears and rushed together upon him. 58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him, and the witnesses placed their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And while they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, Lord Jesus, receive and accept and welcome my spirit! 60 And falling on his knees, he cried out loudly, Lord, fix not this sin upon them [lay it not to their charge]! And when he had said this, he fell asleep [g][in death].

Acts 8

And Saul was [not only] consenting to [Stephen’s] death [he was [a]pleased and [b]entirely approving]. On that day a great and severe persecution broke out against the church which was in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles (special messengers).

[A party of] devout men [c]with others helped to carry out and bury Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul shamefully treated and laid waste the church continuously [with cruelty and violence]; and entering house after house, he dragged out men and women and committed them to prison.

Now those who were scattered abroad went about [through the land from place to place] preaching the glad tidings, the Word [[d]the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God]. Philip [the deacon, not the apostle] went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ (the Messiah) to them [the people]; And great crowds of people with one accord listened to and heeded what was said by Philip, as they heard him and watched the miracles and wonders which he kept performing [from time to time]. For foul spirits came out of many who were possessed by them, screaming and shouting with a loud voice, and many who were suffering from palsy or were crippled were restored to health. And there was great rejoicing in that city.

But there was a man named Simon, who had formerly practiced magic arts in the city to the utter amazement of the Samaritan nation, claiming that he himself was an extraordinary and distinguished person. 10 They all paid earnest attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is that exhibition of the power of God which is called great (intense). 11 And they were attentive and made much of him, because for a long time he had amazed and bewildered and dazzled them with his skill in magic arts.

12 But when they believed the good news (the Gospel) about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) as Philip preached it, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed [he adhered to, trusted in, and relied on the teaching of Philip], and after being baptized, devoted himself constantly to him. And seeing signs and miracles of great power which were being performed, he was utterly amazed.

14 Now when the apostles (special messengers) at Jerusalem heard that [the country of] Samaria had accepted and welcomed the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 And they came down and prayed for them that the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit; 16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them, but they had only been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then [the apostles] laid their hands on them one by one, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 However, when Simon saw that the [Holy] Spirit was imparted through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he brought money and offered it to them, 19 Saying, Grant me also this power and authority, in order that anyone on whom I place my hands may receive the Holy Spirit. 20 But Peter said to him, Destruction overtake your money and you, because you imagined you could obtain the [free] gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is all wrong in God’s sight [it is not straightforward or right or true before God]. 22 So repent of this depravity and wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord that, if possible, this [e]contriving thought and purpose of your heart may be removed and disregarded and forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in [f]a bond forged by iniquity [to fetter souls]. 24 And Simon answered, Pray for me [beseech the Lord, both of you], that nothing of what you have said may befall me!

25 Now when [the apostles] had borne their testimony and preached the message of the Lord, they went back to Jerusalem, proclaiming the glad tidings (Gospel) to many villages of the Samaritans [on the way].

26 But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, Rise and proceed southward or at midday on the road that runs from Jerusalem down to Gaza. This is the desert [[g]route]. 27 So he got up and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship. 28 And he was [now] returning, and sitting in his chariot he was reading the book of the prophet Isaiah.

29 Then the [Holy] Spirit said to Philip, Go forward and join yourself to this chariot. 30 Accordingly Philip, running up to him, heard [the man] reading the prophet Isaiah and asked, Do you really understand what you are reading? 31 And he said, How is it possible for me to do so unless someone explains it to me and guides me [in the right way]? And he earnestly requested Philip to come up and sit beside him.

32 Now this was the passage of Scripture which he was reading: Like a sheep He was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is dumb, so He opens not His mouth. 33 In His humiliation [h] He was taken away by distressing and oppressive judgment and justice was denied Him [caused to cease]. Who can describe or relate in full [i]the wickedness of His contemporaries (generation)? For His life is taken from the earth and [j]a bloody death inflicted upon Him.

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, I beg of you, tell me about whom does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this portion of Scripture he announced to him the glad tidings (Gospel) of Jesus and about Him. 36 And as they continued along on the way, they came to some water, and the eunuch exclaimed, See, [here is] water! What is to hinder my being baptized? 37 [k]And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart [if you have [l]a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah and accept Him as the Author of your salvation in the kingdom of God, giving Him your obedience, then] you may. And he replied, I do believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

38 And he ordered that the chariot be stopped; and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and [Philip] baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord [[m]suddenly] caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus, and passing on he preached the good news (Gospel) to all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Acts 9

Meanwhile Saul, [a]still drawing his breath hard from threatening and murderous desire against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest And requested of him letters to the synagogues at Damascus [authorizing him], so that if he found any men or women belonging to the Way [of life as determined by faith in Jesus Christ], he might bring them bound [with chains] to Jerusalem.

Now as he traveled on, he came near to Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him, And he fell to the ground. Then he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me [harassing, troubling, and molesting Me]? And Saul said, Who are You, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. [b]It is dangerous and it will turn out badly for you to keep kicking against the goad [to offer vain and perilous resistance]. Trembling and astonished he asked, Lord, what do You desire me to do? The Lord said to him, But arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.

The men who were accompanying him were unable to speak [for terror], hearing the voice but seeing no one. Then Saul got up from the ground, but though his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was unable to see for three days, and he neither ate nor drank [anything].

10 Now there was in Damascus a disciple named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias. And he answered, Here am I, Lord. 11 And the Lord said to him, Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying [there]. 12 And he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias enter and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight. 13 But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard many people tell about this man, especially how much evil and what great suffering he has brought on Your saints at Jerusalem; 14 Now he is here and has authority from the high priests to put in chains all who call upon Your name.

15 But the Lord said to him, Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the descendants of Israel; 16 For I will make clear to him how much he will be afflicted and must endure and suffer for My name’s sake.

17 So Ananias left and went into the house. And he laid his hands on Saul and said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to you along the way by which you came here, has sent me that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. 18 And instantly something like scales fell from [Saul’s] eyes, and he recovered his sight. Then he arose and was baptized,

19 And after he took some food, he was strengthened. For several days [afterward] he remained with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus, saying, He is the Son of God! 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, Is not this the very man who harassed and overthrew and destroyed in Jerusalem those who called upon this Name? And he has come here for the express purpose of arresting them and bringing them in chains before the chief priests. 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and continued to confound and put to confusion the Jews who lived in Damascus by comparing and examining evidence and proving that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah).

23 After considerable time had elapsed, the Jews conspired to put Saul out of the way by slaying him, 24 But [the knowledge of] their plot was made known to Saul. They were guarding the [city’s] gates day and night to kill him, 25 But his disciples took him at night and let him down through the [city’s] wall, lowering him in a basket or hamper.

26 And when he had arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to associate himself with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe he really was a disciple. 27 However, Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles, and he explained to them how along the way he had seen the Lord, Who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached freely and confidently and courageously in the name of Jesus.

28 So he went in and out [as one] among them at Jerusalem, 29 Preaching freely and confidently and boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and discussed with and disputed against the Hellenists (the Grecian Jews), but they were seeking to slay him. 30 And when the brethren found it out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus [his home town].

31 So the church throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was edified [growing in wisdom, virtue, and piety] and walking in the respect and reverential fear of the Lord and in the consolation and exhortation of the Holy Spirit, continued to increase and was multiplied.

32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he went down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedfast for eight years and was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [now] makes you whole. Get up and make your bed! And immediately [Aeneas] stood up. 35 Then all the inhabitants of Lydda and the plain of Sharon saw [what had happened to] him and they turned to the Lord.

36 Now there was at Joppa a disciple [a woman] named [in Aramaic] Tabitha, which [in Greek] means Dorcas. She was abounding in good deeds and acts of charity. 37 About that time she fell sick and died, and when they had cleansed her, they laid [her] in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa [however], the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him begging him, Do come to us without delay.

39 So Peter [immediately] rose and accompanied them. And when he had arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood around him, crying and displaying undershirts (tunics) and [other] garments such as Dorcas was accustomed to make while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all out [of the room] and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, Tabitha, get up! And she opened her eyes; and when she saw Peter, she raised herself and sat upright. 41 And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling in God’s people and the widows, he presented her to them alive. 42 And this became known throughout all Joppa, and many came to believe on the Lord [to adhere to and trust in and rely on Him as the Christ and as their Savior]. 43 And Peter remained in Joppa for considerable time with a certain Simon a tanner.

Acts 10

Now [living] at Caesarea there was a man whose name was Cornelius, a centurion (captain) of what was known as the Italian Regiment, A devout man who venerated God and treated Him with reverential obedience, as did all his household; and he gave much alms to the people and prayed continually to God.

About the ninth hour (about 3:00 p.m.) of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God entering and saying to him, Cornelius! And he, gazing intently at him, became frightened and said, What is it, Lord? And the angel said to him, Your prayers and your [generous] gifts to the poor have come up [as a sacrifice] to God and have been remembered by Him. And now send men to Joppa and have them call for and invite here a certain Simon whose surname is Peter; He is lodging with Simon a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.

When the angel who spoke to him had left, Cornelius called two of his servants and a God-fearing soldier from among his own personal attendants. And having rehearsed everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

The next day as they were still on their way and were approaching the town, Peter went up to the roof of the house to pray, about the sixth hour (noon). 10 But he became very hungry, and wanted something to eat; and while the meal was being prepared a trance came over him, 11 And he saw the sky opened and something like a great sheet lowered by the four corners, descending to the earth. 12 It contained all kinds of quadrupeds and wild beasts and creeping things of the earth and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, saying, Rise up, Peter, kill and eat.

14 But Peter said, No, by no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unhallowed or [ceremonially] unclean. 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, do not you defile and profane by regarding and calling common and unhallowed or unclean. 16 This occurred three times; then immediately the sheet was taken up to heaven.

17 Now Peter was still inwardly perplexed and doubted as to what the vision which he had seen could mean, when [just then] behold the messengers that were sent by Cornelius, who had made inquiry for Simon’s house, stopped and stood before the gate. 18 And they called out to inquire whether Simon who was surnamed Peter was staying there.

19 And while Peter was [a]earnestly revolving the vision in his mind and meditating on it, the [Holy] Spirit said to him, Behold, three men are looking for you! 20 Get up and go below and accompany them without any doubt [about its legality] or any discrimination or hesitation, for I have sent them. 21 Then Peter went down to the men and said, I am the man you seek; what is the purpose of your coming?

22 And they said, Cornelius, a centurion (captain) who is just and upright and in right standing with God, being God-fearing and obedient and well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, has been instructed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house; and he [b]has received in answer [to prayer] a warning to listen to and act upon what you have to say. 23 So Peter invited them in to be his guests [for the night]. The next day he arose and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was waiting for and expecting them, and he had invited together his relatives and his intimate friends. 25 As Peter arrived, Cornelius met him, and falling down at his feet he made obeisance and paid worshipful reverence to him. 26 But Peter raised him up, saying, Get up; I myself am also a man.

27 And as [Peter] spoke with him, he entered the house and found a large group of persons assembled; 28 And he said to them, You yourselves are aware how it is not lawful or permissible for a Jew to keep company with or to visit or [even] to come near or to speak first to anyone of another nationality, but God has shown and taught me by words that I should not call any human being common or unhallowed or [ceremonially] unclean. 29 Therefore when I was sent for, I came without hesitation or objection or misgivings. So now I ask for what reason you sent for me.

30 And Cornelius said, This is now the fourth day since about this time I was observing the ninth hour (three o’clock in the afternoon) of prayer in my lodging place; [suddenly] a man stood before me in dazzling apparel, 31 And he said, Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and harkened to, and your donations to the poor have been known and [c]preserved before God [so that He heeds and is about to help you]. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is surnamed Peter; he is staying in the house of Simon the tanner by the seaside. 33 So at once I sent for you, and you [being a Jew] have done a kind and [d]courteous and handsome thing in coming. Now then, we are all present in the sight of God to listen to all that you have been instructed by the Lord to say.

34 And Peter opened his mouth and said: Most certainly and thoroughly I now perceive and understand that God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons, 35 But in every nation he who venerates and has a reverential fear for God, treating Him with worshipful obedience and living uprightly, is acceptable to Him and [e]sure of being received and welcomed [by Him]. 36 You know the contents of the message which He sent to Israel, announcing the good news (Gospel) of peace by Jesus Christ, Who is Lord of all—37 The [same] message which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee after the baptism preached by John— 38 How God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the [Holy] Spirit and with strength and ability and power; how He went about doing good and, [f]in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are [eye and ear] witnesses of everything that He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And [yet] they put Him out of the way (murdered Him) by hanging Him on a tree; 40 But God raised Him to life on the third day and caused Him to be manifest (to be plainly seen), 41 Not by all the people but to us who were chosen (designated) beforehand by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He charged us to preach to the people and to bear solemn testimony that He is the God-appointed and God-ordained Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets testify (bear witness) that everyone who believes in Him [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him, giving himself up to Him] receives forgiveness of sins through His name.

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all who were listening to the message. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised [the Jews] who came with Peter were surprised and amazed, because the free gift of the Holy Spirit had been bestowed and poured out largely even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them talking in [unknown] tongues (languages) and extolling and magnifying God. Then Peter asked, 47 Can anyone forbid or refuse water for baptizing these people, seeing that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? 48 And he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). Then they begged him to stay on there for some days.

Acts 11

Now the apostles (special messengers) and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard [with astonishment] that the Gentiles (heathen) also had received and accepted and welcomed the Word of God [the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God].

So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party [certain Jewish Christians] found fault with him [separating themselves from him in a hostile spirit, opposing and disputing and contending with him], Saying, Why did you go to uncircumcised men and [even] eat with them?

But Peter began [at the beginning] and narrated and explained to them step by step [the whole list of events]. He said: I was in the town of Joppa praying, and [falling] in a trance I saw a vision of something coming down from heaven, like a huge sheet lowered by the four corners; and it descended until it came to me. Gazing intently and closely at it, I observed in it [a variety of] four-footed animals and wild beasts and reptiles of the earth and birds of the air, And I heard a voice saying to me, Get up, Peter; kill and eat. But I said, No, by no means, Lord; for nothing common or unhallowed or [ceremonially] unclean has ever entered my mouth.

But the voice answered a second time from heaven, What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, do not you defile and profane by regarding or calling it common or unhallowed or unclean. 10 This occurred three times, and then all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And right then the three men sent to me from Caesarea arrived at the house in which we were. 12 And the [Holy] Spirit instructed me to accompany them without [the least] hesitation or misgivings or discrimination.

So these six brethren accompanied me also, and we went into the man’s house. 13 And he related to us how he had seen the angel in his house which stood and said to him, Send men to Joppa and bring Simon who is surnamed Peter; 14 He will give and explain to you a message by means of which you and all your household [as well] will be saved [[a]from eternal death]. 15 When I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as He did on us at the beginning. 16 Then I recalled the declaration of the Lord, how He said, John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with ([b]be placed in, introduced into) the Holy Spirit. 17 If then God gave to them the same Gift [equally] as He gave to us when we believed in (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on) the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I and what power or authority had I to interfere or hinder or forbid or withstand God? 18 When they heard this, they were quieted and made no further objection. And they glorified God, saying, Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance [c]unto [real] life [after resurrection].

19 Meanwhile those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose in connection with Stephen had traveled as far away as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, without delivering the message [concerning [d] the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God] to anyone except Jews.

20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on returning to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, proclaiming [to them] the good news (the Gospel) about the Lord Jesus. 21 And the presence of the Lord was with them with power, so that a great number [learned] to believe (to adhere to and trust in and rely on the Lord) and turned and surrendered themselves to Him.

22 The rumors of this came to the ears of the church (assembly) in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what grace (favor) God was bestowing upon them, he was full of joy; and he continuously exhorted (warned, urged, and encouraged) them all to cleave unto and remain faithful to and devoted to the Lord with [resolute and steady] purpose of heart. 24 For he was a good man [[e]good in himself and also at once for the good and the advantage of other people], full of and controlled by the Holy Spirit and full of faith (of his [f]belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation). And a large company was added to the Lord.

25 [Barnabas] went on to Tarsus to hunt for Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him back to Antioch. For a whole year they assembled together with and [g]were guests of the church and instructed a large number of people; and in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

27 And during these days prophets (inspired teachers and interpreters of the divine will and purpose) came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and prophesied through the [Holy] Spirit that a great and severe famine would come upon the whole world. And this did occur during the reign of Claudius.

29 So the disciples resolved to send relief, each according to his individual ability [in proportion as he had prospered], to the brethren who lived in Judea. 30 And so they did, sending [their contributions] to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

And we join our voices, lift our eyes, and declare the Amen


The words of Joseph, sold by his brothers and used by God to rescue His chosen people, echo through my mind as I come to the conclusion of these passages . . .

As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day. Genesis 50:20 AMP

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[a] should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:20 ESV

You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people. Genesis 50:20 HCSB

As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day. Genesis 50:20 NET

No matter what translation of the Bible we look at the words that fell from the lips of Joseph ring out the eternal truth: God is always doing the good thing. And it seems to be just as true that no matter how many times I see that reality wear skin . . . I need the reminder, I need to hear the voice of Joseph in my head, when I face the tough stuff.

God going to so much trouble to line up one bleak circumstance after another that results in the beyond-my-wildest-imagination-beauty-from-the-ashes good thing in these Scriptures, tells me I might not be the only one who needs the reminder.

This group of passages starts off with the horrific death of Stephen – stoned by the very people he desired to serve. What good can come of that?

57 But they raised a great shout and put their hands over their ears and rushed together upon him. 58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him, and the witnesses placed their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. Acts 7:57-58

Saul used the anger and indignation the speech of Stephen aroused in the Sanhedrin to intensify his persecution of the church. What beauty could be found there?

But Saul shamefully treated and laid waste the church continuously [with cruelty and violence]; and entering house after house, he dragged out men and women and committed them to prison. Acts 8:3

Death and destruction – the acts of sinful man – look at first glance beyond redemption. Don’t you praise the Holy One that He is not limited by what we see.

The stoning of Stephen and the cruelty of Saul certainly served to chase the disciples of Jesus from Jerusalem . . .

On that day a great and severe persecution broke out against the church which was in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles (special messengers). Acts 8:1

But rather than become smaller in number the Body of Christ, broken into pieces was multiplied and the Gospel message of Jesus continued to spread . . . Can you hear Joseph? What you intended for harm God has used to save many lives.

The Scripture doesn’t tell us this but it makes sense to me that news of the spreading fame of Jesus Christ and the increasing numbers of those who belonged to the Way reached the ears of the priests and elders in Jerusalem. And it might have been that very news that prompted Saul, who had looked on with approval at the death of Stephen, to petition the council to go beyond Jerusalem in his attempts to put the Gospel in chains.

Meanwhile Saul, [a]still drawing his breath hard from threatening and murderous desire against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest And requested of him letters to the synagogues at Damascus [authorizing him], so that if he found any men or women belonging to the Way [of life as determined by faith in Jesus Christ], he might bring them bound [with chains] to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1

Certainly the reputation of Saul would have preceded him. The disciples would have dreaded his coming and while they may have determined in their spirits to stand firm we know that they were well aware of the pain he had inflicted. From the mouth of Ananias springs forth voice to what the lovers of Christ must have been thinking . . .

But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard many people tell about this man, especially how much evil and what great suffering he has brought on Your saints at Jerusalem; 14 Now he is here and has authority from the high priests to put in chains all who call upon Your name. Acts 9:13

Surely, the Faithful in Jesus had to wonder what glory would come from the evil pursuit of the persecutor? What noble purpose would be redeemed from the suffering he had inflicted?

And we see the Holy Answer flood across the pages and the pain take on purpose as the life of Saul is transformed from murderer to messenger . . .

20 And immediately in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus, saying, He is the Son of God! 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, Is not this the very man who harassed and overthrew and destroyed in Jerusalem those who called upon this Name? And he has come here for the express purpose of arresting them and bringing them in chains before the chief priests. 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and continued to confound and put to confusion the Jews who lived in Damascus by comparing and examining evidence and proving that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah). Acts 9:20-22

From our vantage point in time, we know that Saul, renamed Paul, was appointed and heralded as the teacher of the Gentiles and that the words God penned through his hand have reached far beyond his time. But might it be that in the present time, the followers of the Way, were still uncertain? It’s difficult when we’re in the midst of pain and suffering to see the beauty of any of it. Hindsight may lend us a clearer view, but ultimately, in the moment—the hot intensity of it all—we simply have to trust God that the good thing is firmly in His Hand.  He will reveal it in His time.

23 They were only hearing it said, He who used to persecute us is now proclaiming the very faith he once reviled and which he set out to ruin and tried with all his might to destroy. 24 And they glorified God [as the Author and Source of what had taken place] in me. Galatians 1:23-24

I firmly believe that in every situation, despite the immediacy of the suffering, God works for the good of those who love Him. And rather it is here or in Glory, if I lean in close, if you lean in close Beloved, we will hear the voice of Joseph–

As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day. Genesis 50:20 NET

And if you’re straining with everything you have and your ears fail to hear then, Girlfriend you lift your eyes to the Heavenlies and see your Savior. The One who endured the death, the destruction, the evil, and the suffering and brought the VERY GOOD THING to us.   He is our guarantee that God is always at work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The Messiah is our proof that we don’t simply make ourselves feel better by believing that there is purpose – noble, holy, good, eternal purpose—in our pain, in our suffering, in our despair.

Sister, our God does not change and our Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God has always been, will always be, and is today doing the good thing. Bringing the beauty from the ashes. Bringing life from death. Bringing purpose from pain. Hear the voice of Joseph . . .

creation swap lessons from lent 26663_Crossing_Nails ribbet God does the very good thing . . . #lessonsfromlent

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

21 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 9:36

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our God will never leave us empty handed.

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

He will always bring us feast in our famine.

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

And He will not be limited by our limitations.

— No human eye has seen nor heart conceived. —

So the question remains Sweet One . . . .


Will you give God your lunch?

Circumstances Do Not Change . . . We Do!

28 Jan

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

No matter how hard we tried to escape our reality,

now matter how far we ran . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But he could not outrun the Heart of God.

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

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

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

But he could not flee the Love of Messiah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their circumstances were not changed but their hearts were.

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

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

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

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

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

Do you see the Love of it all?

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

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

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