The Dreams of God . . . 9/22/15
"In the beginning," God had a very big dream. Then He spoke it into existence! Because God is a dreamer (and a doer), then so are His people. The dreams we dream—our sanctified aspirations—usually originate in the heart of God. He plants the seed of His holy desires into our thoughts. From there they grow and expand, taking root throughout our being.
I fully expect that one day soon I will receive a long-awaited promise from God. I will be shouting it from the rooftops when this dream is finally tangible. But until then, my testimony is a quiet one of walking with the Lord on a well-lit path of hope and faith.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning—Yes, more than those who watch for the morning – Psalm 130:5-6.
I am learning to be patient, but I still wait eagerly for the imminent gift that God has promised. The Spirit within me is excited, and His emotion is contagious.
The Holy Spirit does not abide in us to be unobtrusive and silent. He shares His vision and yearning with a relentless voice of passion. The seed of God’s dream planted deep within brings us growth and transformation. We become the “good soil” that is required for dreams to materialize. Once a dream becomes as real and dear to us as it is to God, then even our doubts will push us to the throne of grace where we find confirmation and assurance, as often as we ask. This is especially true with dreams that are very large. Our Father is happy to help us believe for the impossible.
I want to stress that we must choose to believe—sometimes on a daily basis. This is imperative, but it’s also impossible apart from being immersed in the Word of God. The Word will water our faith to keep it alive and thereby also water the dream.
The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail – Isaiah 58:11.
The powerful, living Word will draw us near to God, then worship will transport us into His arms. Our expressions of praise and adoration will bring a shift to our relationship that nothing else can. In this close proximity to the Father we are able to hear His heartbeat and receive His vital direction.
Before God's will can be done on Earth, His Word must be proclaimed by us, including specific promises. As we are inspired by the Spirit, we must declare relevant words over our spheres of authority and over our dreams. The words we proclaim can be scripture, or they can be the personal words that God has whispered to us. Both are truth, and both are the mighty sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). God loves to be reminded of His Word. He loves to hear it echo powerfully through the halls of His creation, forcing the enemy to submit to its reality and fearfully run for cover.
Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising – Isaiah 60:1-3.
Who can tire of reading Isaiah 60? Yes, let us all arise and shine! The dreams we share with God will soon be seen upon the Earth. Our testimonies will explode with radiant glory and light!
I’m convinced that God dreams of the times when He can elevate each of us—of the specific times when He can crown us with a promotion or open a door of miraculous blessing. I believe He dreams of the look in our eyes when the promise finally appears, and of our worshipful interaction with Him that precedes the event and will forever follow.
Dear Lord, You are a God of perfect love. Your timing is flawless. Your faithfulness is beyond reproach. In Your presence we find peace, joy and excitement. You are worthy of our praise, and You're the Inspiration for our worship. Please help us to love You as You deserve.
Leaning . . . 8/23/15
Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? – Song of Solomon 8:5.
Many Christians today are “coming up from the wilderness.” As we lean on our Beloved, we find ourselves in love with Him, in awe of Him, and totally dependent on Him. We walk hopefully and expectantly into the future, hand in hand with our glorious Lord. Upon our frail human shoulders rests a multi-colored garment, woven with radiant thread that was spun from truth gleaned in the desert. The strands of truth form a beautiful tapestry of promise that we know will be fulfilled—a mantle of purpose that God has lovingly prepared.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the valley of Baca, they make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion – Psalm 84:5-7.
A vibrant, emerging sector of Christianity is composed of those who have met with God in the wastelands and the valleys—whose hearts were transformed in the dry and rocky places—who made a spring in their desert because of His love.
Am I describing you? Have you walked through painful, desolate, difficult years, and in them formed an intimate, unbreakable bond with the Light of life—a bond that has value beyond measure? I have numerous friends who have made this wilderness journey, as well as myself, so I know that each trip is different. There is no map. There are no shortcuts. But the Word is always near, shining brightly on the unique route that God prepares—the road that leads us into the depths of Himself.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path – Psalm 119:105 KJV.
Today, as I lean on my Beloved, I still see rocks to side-step and low-hanging limbs to dodge. Enemies continue to hide in the bushes. But at this point in my journey with the Lord, I lean hard enough for full support. Foes may startle me, but my Beloved quickly deflects all arrows of fear. He squeezes my hand and points to the horizon, saying, “Look! The promise is almost here.”
The eternal God is your refuge and dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He drove the enemy before you and thrust them out, saying, Destroy! – Deuteronomy 33:27 AMP.
If your time in the wilderness is just beginning, the best thing to do (the only wise option) is to take the hand of God and never let go. The next thing to do is toss your heavy burden of pride into the evening campfire, and let it be consumed. (Pride will only cause trouble, for you and others.) Share your ideas with the Lord, but always submit to His direction. Talk to Him about your problems, and listen carefully to His response. Keep holding tightly to Jesus’ hand so diversions and “shortcuts” won’t entrap you. Remember, there is a purpose for this journey that will stretch into eternity.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate: Give me a Light that I may tread safely into the unknown! And He replied: Go out into the darkness and put thine hand into the hand of God. That shall be to thee better than light and safer than a known way - Minnie Louise Haskins, from "The Desert" c. 1908.
Thank You, Lord, that seasons in the wilderness draw us deeper into Your holy heart. In the harsh, barren wastelands, all pretense is dropped and exchanged for abiding in You. In the wilderness, our world is shaken and torn, but You stand tall and upright amidst our trouble, with arms outstretched. Thank You, Lord, for Your light, Your love, and Your faithfulness.
Hunger . . . 8/15/15
Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness – Psalm 107:8-9.
Are you troubled by anxiety and unrest? Do you feel overwhelmed by the ongoing trials of life? Or do you find yourself dissatisfied, even when life is on a fairly even keel and nothing visible can be blamed? We’ve been taught by the medical profession to label these conditions "depression," and technically, I suppose that is true. But I’m convinced that these states of mind most often reflect a deep, God-given hunger for "more" that can only be found in Him.
Jesus is our model: After His ministry began, He was pursued and condemned by the Pharisees. Wherever He went, Jesus was hated by those who opposed His claim of being God. In addition to the persecution and rejection, Jesus knew He was destined for the cross. But through it all, He never submitted to depression. When Jesus hungered for "more," He quickly sought the Father. And what He found in the Father’s presence was fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
No matter how close we are to God today, we're designed by Him to yearn for more. Every born-again spirit is joined with the Spirit of Christ who will have it no other way. Jesus' passion for each of us will settle for nothing less than our all-consuming devotion. He aches for a tight embrace. He hungers for lengthy walks and relevant, meaningful talks. He longs for us to plunge with desire into the deep waters of His heart.
The Lord allows difficulties to come our way for a variety of reasons. One of them is to expose to us our need for an intimate connection with Him—not just a Sunday morning connection or a “now I lay me down to sleep” connection. We are Jesus’ bride, and as the Bridegroom, He desires to be extremely close. He wants to whisper sweet personal words into eagerly awaiting ears. He wants to thrill us with the endless delights found only in His presence. Now who can resist being loved like this?
But we must not be selfish. The passion of this relationship with God should go both ways. Incredibly, He hungers for our worship, and He thirsts for our praise. Never forget: His desire for our eternal love took Him all the way to Calvary.
You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; You have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes . . . – Song of Solomon 4:9.
From this day forward, let’s hearken to the call of the Bridegroom: Let’s feed our hunger with His presence and quench our thirst with His love. In return, we can bless Him with our time, attention and adoration. Oh, yes! Let’s dance into eternity, held in the arms of our Beloved.
Dear Lord, we recognize that our deepest hunger is for You. Please don’t let us be satisfied with anything less, even temporarily. Let Your Spirit guide us every day to Your calming, nourishing presence. Please guard us against every subtle deception that offers inferior bread and wine. Let us consume only what is of You. Let us eat and drink until we're filled to overflowing with Your goodness.
God Bless America . . . 7/4/15
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth . . . The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever – Psalm 121:1-2, 7-8 NASB.
The majority of United States citizens do not agree with the liberal, left-wing vision for our country. We believe this country is still "one nation, under God”—as long as we look to Him for help, guidance, and restoration. Many of us boldly ask for more than restoration. We ask for the glory of God to be visible throughout the land, every day of the week, rain or shine, no matter what comes against us.
God has not abandoned this country merely because our leaders have lied and manipulated to gain political advantage.
The real identity of the United States is not presented by the agenda-driven, politically correct media. In truth, the greater part of this country is mourning many losses, and God is mourning right along with us. But even though He grieves, God also has a plan for good that will prevail. (He always does.) Each of us has an important part to play in God's plan, and He will give us direction, one step at a time, as we draw near. A first step for one person may be to repent of a sin so they can get out of a rut and move forward in their walk with God. For another, that step may be to get off the fence and take a stand for holiness. Some of us simply need to read the Word and learn that God is still on our side. He will restore our land—if we trust and obey.
Because obedience always preceeds blessing, we should respond promptly to whatever God may ask of us. The book of Judges is a good portrayal of God's heart regarding obedience—about it leading to His favor and protection. The words in Deuteronomy, below, also reveal how God desires to bless His obedient followers. God gave this promise to Israel through Moses, but the standard applies to any nation. The United States clearly proved this precept in her early years.
Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth - Deuteronomy 28:1.
The patriotic song, “God Bless America,” written by Irving Berlin, is actually a prayer. Please join me in lifting these words up to the Lord:
God Bless America, (Renew a right spirit within us all.)
Land that I love. (Because she was founded in You, Lord.)
Stand beside her, and guide her (You will never leave us or forsake us.)
Thru the night with a light from above. (Let Your Light dispel the darkness.)
From the mountains, to the prairies, (Bless us with repentance from coast to coast.)
To the oceans, white with foam. (Bless us with Your vision for restoration of this land.)
God bless America, my home sweet home. (Bless us with more of Your presence.)
Thank You, Lord, for not turning away from us. As we humble ourselves and pray, dear Lord, You have promised to "forgive our sin and heal our land" (2 Chronicles 7:14). You have stood by us during this dark night of attack, from enemies both without and within. Let Your Holy Spirit guide each of us as we pray for the United States to be restored and even improved from its beautiful beginnings.
Obtaining a Good Testimony . . . 6/28/15
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony – Hebrews 11:1-2.
Why must we endure the rigorous testing of our faith? In my own experience, these trials have drawn me closer to the actual Person of God—not simply in a “God, please help me” way, but by pulling me into a place of really knowing and communicating with Him. As my testing continues and as the stakes become higher, I find myself asking, “Can God be trusted?” (Can He be relied on to correct me if I’ve misunderstood His words?) And then, when I search for answers to those audacious questions, I am confronted by the heart of God. I hear it beating steadfastly, with the utmost integrity, and with a beautifully intense love. I discover that God’s heart and my faith are increasingly intertwined.
When the Lord gives us a personal promise, and then He requires that we wait and wait and wait for its appearance, we should know that He has good reasons for moving slowly. As I’ve just described, waiting on God is a season of drawing near to Him. But with our Lord, there is always an abundance of purpose:
While we anticipate the arrival of His promise, God draws us irretrievably into our destiny. At first, we’re given the general framework, but the details are withheld. As we wait, God carefully transforms us with a series of tribulations—the kind that last only a day, or maybe even a week. A few will last a month or more. Whatever the duration, these troubling events continue to land on our doorstep for us to deal with, and then they go. With each victory, we see God's glory released. More of His character is unveiled for us to marvel at and depend on. Time goes by, and our discernment is sharpened—our spiritual sight and hearing improves. We are led to hidden reserves of truth. We're told of the importance of timing. While walking hand-in-hand with God, He reveals exciting new details of our destiny. Passion arises for a vision that is exceedingly greater than we first expected.
The Word of God clearly reveals His ways of dealing with man. It displays His willingness to do whatever it takes for us to succeed in bringing His Kingdom to Earth. Let's take a look at three patriarchs whose lives offer a pattern that will inspire us—lives that tell us it's okay to "think big" when God has given us an exciting promise:
Jacob was the second-born of twins. When his mother, Rebekah, turned to God for insight regarding the struggle within her pregnant body, He spoke to her of Jacob's destiny: Jacob's people would be stronger than those of his brother, Esau. Jacob would rule over his brother and over his brother’s people (Genesis 25:23). After Jacob's birth, Rebekah favored him over his brother and certainly told him of his destiny. God stood by His word, even though Jacob took matters of destiny into his own hands by lying to his father and cheating his brother. God continued being faithful, in spite of Jacob’s manipulation and his “I can handle this” attitude. Through a series of trials in which Jacob received a large dose of his own medicine, he was gradually enlightened by God and made fit for his destiny as a humble, Godly leader of a strong people—the father of Joseph and the future nation of Israel.
Joseph received his own promise of success through a dream from God, though I’m sure he had moments of doubt. When he was thrown into a pit by his brothers and left to die, he certainly turned to God, crying for help and also for explanation. Things looked better for a while in Potiphar’s house, until Joseph was slandered and sent to prison. The Egyptian prison was no piece of cake, but Joseph kept his heart aligned with God and rose to a position of trust. Another disappointment came in the form of a final two-year wait, simply because of God's timing. But Joseph still trusted the Lord and therefore was ready when the big day finally came—the day when Pharaoh called for Joseph’s help to interpret his dreams—the day when Joseph was released from prison and promoted to second-in-command of Egypt (Genesis 41:39-41).
David was a mere shepherd boy, chosen by God and anointed by Samuel to be the next King of Israel. David waited many difficult years for his coronation. Through seasons of hardship and persecution, David worshiped the Lord with song and dance, and with psalms inspired by the Spirit. David sinned, and then he repented. Never pretentious, he cried out to God whenever he was afraid. David defeated giants and numerous mighty armies with the power of God surrounding him. After years of severe tribulation and extreme warfare, David received his promise. He was crowned as a respected and beloved King over all of Israel (2 Samuel: 5).
Our God is still in the business of miracles, and He is still surrounded by glory. But He is not a God of shortcuts. Our faith will still be tested. Our hearts will be sorely tried. Like those who went before us, we will be cleaned up and made ready for the important assignments ahead. We will walk in victory, and our good testimony will guide the ones who follow.
Dear Lord, we thank You for restraining, humbling, and carefully preparing us. The tests are difficult, but since they work for our good, we sincerely thank You for them. Please let Your word lead us out of any present darkness and into Your glorious light. We want to be where You are, doing only what satisfies You.
Abiding in the Light . . . 5/23/15
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” - John 8:12.
The powers of darkness work overtime to keep Christians focused on negative circumstances. Their wicked schemes would have us putting more significance on their destruction than on the beautiful goodness of God. When we do this long enough, our faith is unwittingly shifted away from God and onto Satan. I know this sounds extreme, but I believe it’s true. Please consider these questions: When your fears are stronger and more persistent than your trust in God, then who do you believe is running the show? Who do you expect to be victorious over the present problems and dangers?
God has already won the war against evil, and ultimately, every knee will bow to Him. All Christians are aware of that. But what we believe about the present, day by day and hour by hour, is what overtakes us and comes to pass in our personal lives. (Remember: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen - Hebrews 11:1.) Our thoughts and beliefs along with our words and actions—these are the tools that shape our future. When we honor the Lord by believing His Word and responding with steps of faith, then He acts on our behalf. When we honor Satan by dwelling too long in fear, then doors of injury and loss begin to swing open.
As we walk through barren wastelands and difficult valleys—where God transforms us through customized tests—it’s important to remember that two opposing kingdoms do exist. One is ruled by darkness, and the other is ruled by Light. It's critical to know that the kingdom of darkness has been soundly defeated by Jesus’ blood. This truth is irreversible.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross - Colossians 2:15 NIV.
Let's take time to review some elements of the two opposing kingdoms. Notice the vivid contrast:
The Reigning Kingdom of God
Truth of God, found in His Word John 1:1, Psalm 119:105, James 1:18
Goodness of God Psalm 31:19, James 1:17, Psalm 27:24
Faithfulness of God Deuteronomy 7:9, Psalm 36:5, Psalm 89:8
Promises of God, revealed by His Spirit 2 Corinthians 1:20, 2 Peter 1:4
Grace, mercy and love of God Ephesians 2:4-7, 1 Timothy 1:14, Psalm 86:5
Salvation John 1:12, John 3:16, John 14:6, Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9, Ephesians 2:8
Humility of God’s people Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:12, James 4:10
Praise and worship Psalm 150:1-6, John 4:23, Psalm 96:1-9
Prayer and warfare Ephesians 6:12, 2 Corinthians 10:4, Zechariah 4:6
Hope and faith Hebrews 11:1, Matthew 17:20, Psalm 31:24, Romans 5:5
Freedom, Light and Life Galatians 5:1, Matthew 4:16, John 10:10
The Defeated Kingdom of Darkness
Lies of Satan John 8:44, Revelation 12:9, 2 Corinthians 4:4
Angry, destructive nature of Satan 1 Peter 5:8, Mark 4:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:9
Pride and self-exaltation of the unsaved Proverbs 16:18, Matthew 23:12
Fear, pain and loss Psalm 9:20, Deuteronomy 28:15-68
Hopelessness Ephesians 2:12, John 10:10, 2 Corinthians 4:4
Condemnation Matthew 23:14, Matthew 23:33, John 3:19, John 5:29
Damnation 2 Thessalonians 1:9, John 3:36, Matthew 10:28, James 4:12
Captivity, darkness and death John 8:34, Psalm 82:5, Proverbs 11:19
It’s important to recognize the darkness, but then we must turn our full attention back to the glory of God. As we pass through times of testing, our eyes must be focused on our Lord. By doing this, our faith will increase with each passing day. Words of praise, proclamation and power will flow from our lips. Our hearts and hands will offer gifts of grace. While abiding in the Light of Life, our destinies are compelled to grow bigger and brighter.
Dear Lord, we thank You for being the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We thank You for being the source of all we need (1 Corinthians 8:6). And above all, we thank You for loving us (John 3:16). With all that You are and all that You offer, we will not be looking elsewhere. We'll reach for Your Light and bask in it's nourishing, transforming warmth.
Anticipation . . . 5/9/15
For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day – Habakkuk 2:3 AMP.
Christians who hear the voice of God are anticipating much good in the days and the years to come. Believers “wait earnestly” for these things. We know the Lord has not abandoned us to terrorism and fear. His faithfulness has not ended.
You may be wondering, “What about the 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded?” Personally, I believe those courageous saints were called for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). They were destined to be martyrs—to make a global presentation of their love for God. Their deaths were not in vain because the non-Christian world has certainly taken note. For each who bravely died, many more are being eternally saved, including beloved family members.
But most of us are not assigned to martyrdom. We're called to "the fellowship of Jesus' sufferings" (Philippians 3:10) as part of our transformation process, but not to the point of death. Significantly, amidst the trouble of this world, we’re called to believe in the constant goodness of our Lord. We’re called to embrace His amazing love—for us and for all of humanity.
In our position as kings and priests (Revelation 5:9-10), Christians are bidden to pray God's plans into being. The Spirit reveals the Father’s will to us, and then we intercede. Because we have authority, we can expect to watch the mighty hands of God as they topple mountains of evil, either one by one, or in quick succession like dominos.
So much good is happening all over the world. We just don’t see it on the secular news.
On a personal level, I challenge you to focus on hearing the voice of God. He is waiting to give you words regarding your future. Draw near to Him and receive His vision of destiny and supernatural life. I dare you to believe every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord and respond to it in faith. I invite you to walk in glorious victory.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him – James 1:5-7.
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know –
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it” – Isaiah 30:21 NIV.
Great anticipation will come when you receive vision and direction from the Lord (Jeremiah 33:3 and Isaiah 30:21, above)—whether it leaps from a page in your Bible, arrives in the form of a dream, or is whispered by the Spirit within you.
Dear Lord, we thank You for entering our dreams and for sending us visions. We thank You for Your written Word and for the voice of Your Spirit. We thank You for the many unique ways you speak to us each day. You surround us with Your loving presence and guidance, so we are never alone. Thank You for calling us to walk each day in hope and joyful expectation.
Thank You, Lord, for teaching us how to pray. Please give us the clear revelation we need to conquer the giants of the land.
Resurrection Power . . . 3/30/15
. . . that you may know . . . what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places . . . – Ephesians 1:18-20.
If we’re on a mission from the Lord, stepping forward with worship in our hearts, moving prayerfully and obediently, then power springs forth from the Living God within us. We see through His eyes and hear with His ears. Our prayer now rides on lightning bolts. Our proclamations make mountains crumble. I call this “resurrection power” due to its capacity for jaw-dropping, river-parting change.
Let’s look at two aspects of resurrection power: One glorious quality is its function of restoration. After Jesus died on the cross, His life was restored to Him—and to all who belong to Him. Yes, when Jesus rose from the dead, all Christians rose from the dead along with Him. (Stop for a minute to think of the magnitude of that power.) This supernatural function is also used for destruction of evil strongholds. It always sends the enemy running for cover.
When our heart is filled with vibrant dreams that originate from God, then His resurrection power is released when the time is right. We can always count on God's faithfulness. He won’t start a project and later grow tired of it.
We find this mighty resurrection power in the secret place with our Lord. Amazingly, this same power that raised Jesus from the dead is yours and mine to use, but only when we are ready. First, we learn what is on our Father’s heart. Then we're given a vision of how we're to be involved. Somewhere along the line, we become desperate for the birth of the vision. Because God’s passion has become our own passion, we cannot rest until it arrives. As we draw near to the Lord in worship and fervent prayer, He also draws near to us, bringing His wealth of power with Him. We know that one day soon, we will enter a season of glory.
Is there something that God has promised you? Has He stirred you up to believe for it and pray for it with a zeal that won’t let Him go until He has blessed you with its arrival? I urge you to press on toward the prize (Philippians 3:14). Feed upon God’s faithfulness (Psalm 37:3). Remind Him of His words (Isaiah 62:6-7). Sing praise to the Lord and magnify Him to all who will listen (Psalm 34:3).
And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” – Joshua 3:5.
Dear Lord, we thank You for the excitement of Your powerful presence. We are drawn ever deeper into battle with Jesus, our Hope of Glory—the Captain of the host. At night, our camp is warmed by the blazing fire of Your Spirit. By day, Your banner over us is Love. Amidst the conflict, we have peace. Anticipating Your glory is a wonderful thing, but our passion is for its appearance. We are desperate for change. We need Your blessing so we can bless others. We ask You, Lord, “Please don’t tarry.” Let tomorrow come quickly. Let Your wonders be upon us.
Under the Mighty Hand of God . . . 2/28/15
. . . the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many –
As I was reading through the book of Mark, the Holy Spirit shone His light on the verse above. What He showed me is hard to describe, but it has to do with Jesus submitting to the Father. Jesus didn’t choose to die on the cross. He chose to do everything the Father asked of Him, and that included dying on the cross. Jesus humbled Himself under the mighty hand of God.
The Creator of Heaven and Earth, came into this sinful world to do the Father's will—to serve and to die. The same is required of me and you. Of course we learned all this in the first few weeks of “Christianity 101.” But did we understand it? Did we take the teaching seriously, or was it "seed sown among thorns," choked out by the cares of this world?
How can we think of ourselves as “good Christians” who are spiritually mature if we have little desire to pour out our life like Jesus did?
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain – John 12:24.
I must admit that I recoil from completely and absolutely giving my life. Maybe to God, on a good day, but not to sinful humans. I want to retain some control over what I give and where I go. Fortunately, God only asks that I submit to Him, even though at times it may appear that I’m submitting to people.
Whenever the Spirit reminds me of my reluctance to "surrender all," I ask for His forgiveness and His mercy. I ask Him to change my heart, and then I always add, “…but please be gentle.” Even as I tremble over what God may ask of me, I know that He is good—every minute of every day. He’s proven this over and over. I have learned to trust Him, whether He’s gentle or not.
The Lord has been busy transforming me, and I expect it to continue. His efforts with each of us will triumph over our stubborn flesh. And since He is faithful to finish what He has begun (Philippians 1:6), we needn’t worry about Him throwing His hands up in frustration.
We are all being captured and changed by the Lord’s goodness—utterly and eternally. The Living Word reaches out to us with love and hope and healing power. It continually enlarges us, making more room for the Spirit to stretch out and be God. By His grace, we are learning to give our lives as a ransom for others—one day at a time—one hour at a time.
As we humble ourselves beneath the hand of God, the presence of Christ within us will rise and prevail. When people look into our eyes, the Spirit of God will be looking back at them.
Dear Father, we thank You for Your relentless work on our behalf. (We're glad you don't give up on us.) Thank You for revealing Your heart to us, making it easier for us to “fall into the ground and die.” Lord Jesus, we thank You for being our Example and our Enabler. We thank You for dying. But most of all, we thank You for LIVING.
Sow to the Spirit . . . 2/8/15
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life - Galatians 6:7-8 NKJV.
Most of us are familiar with the scripture above. And since God said it, we agree that it must be true: We will reap what we sow. When this particular truth is weighing heavily on our minds, we then determine to “turn over a new leaf.” We make New Year’s resolutions. We may even rededicate our life to God in front of the entire church on a Sunday morning. We really do mean business.
But sadly, for some of us, it isn’t long before our flesh is calling the shots again. And soon, after the initial pleasure of breaking the rules, we feel guilty and defeated. Maybe we’ve gained another pound, or missed some opportunities, or wounded a valuable friend. It could be even worse. But whatever loss we experience, God tells us it isn’t necessary. Failure and defeat aren’t something to be expected, simply because we’re still on Earth.
Do you want the high points of your life to rise above the rank of “good intentions”? Would you like to experience victory more often than defeat? Will you dare to reach for the goal of being victorious every time? If your answer is “Yes,” then look at the second half of verse eight: . . . but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
God’s Word is so amazing! In a mere half sentence, we find the solution to the problem with our flesh, and we also find the astounding result of our compliance. Let’s take a closer look:
. . . but he who sows to the Spirit - Just what does this mean? In my experience, it means to take heed to the Spirit of God within me. I think about Him. I encounter Him while reading the Bible. I believe every word that proceeds from His mouth (Matthew 4:4). I praise Him and worship Him. I spend time sitting quietly, waiting to hear His voice or simply enjoying His peaceful, powerful presence.
. . . will of the Spirit reap everlasting life – When we sow to the Spirit, we are awakened to His love, His purpose, and all that He is within us. We become aligned with the power that raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-20). We rejoice in the everlasting life we have in Him (John 4:14). Think of it! Life so strong and perfect that it lasts forever will certainly make an impact while residing in humans here on Earth. When we sow to the Spirit, then the active will of God erupts from us and changes our world.
Let me offer a few practical examples of how I sow to the Spirit each day and thereby reap life:
Early in the morning, before I mingle with the world, I ask God to guard my heart and my mouth. Then later, if He prompts me to be quiet and keep my thoughts to myself, He also enables me to obey His direction.
When I need to make a decision, I inquire of the Spirit for wisdom. The direction I receive will lead to life—if I adhere to it.
On days when I’m feeling insecure, I ask the Spirit of God to surround me with His favor, like a shield (Psalm 5:12). Then quite often I’m met by His grace, delivered to me from unexpected sources.
Our flesh will always be weak and helpless when it comes to obeying God. But when we sow to the Spirit, He swells up within us and actually enables us to obey our Lord. He sharpens our hearing. He removes any veils that obscure our vision. He changes the desires of our heart. He even inspires certain prayer that He intends to answer.
Dear Holy Spirit, we love you so much. You are the Helper who never fails us. Thank You for uniting with our human spirits. Many in the world think the joining of our spirits is too far-fetched to be true because You are God and we are human. But our union is real. It is full of wonder and love and power. Thank you for helping us sow to You and not to the flesh. Thank You for giving us revelation so we can walk in step with You. Thank You for the peace and joy that follow us wherever we go.
Let There Be Light! . . . 1/14/15
Then God said, “Let there be light”—and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness – Genesis 1:3-4.
When God created the physical world, He gave light the highest priority, so that’s where He began. His next move was to divide the light from the darkness. The spiritual world is no different. First, Jesus becomes the Light of our life. Then He leads us out of darkness.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” – John 8:12.
When I think of spiritual light, I first think of Jesus. He is the Creator of physical light, and He personifies spiritual light. Then my thoughts go to truth, revelation and wisdom. Appropriately, these living elements are found in the indwelling Spirit of the Lord, and they fill our lives with goodness. These amazing gifts, all wrapped up in Jesus, come to us from the Father of lights.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning – James 1:17.
At our invitation, the Light of God invades us and puts His stamp of salvation on our spirit, actually uniting with it. (This can never be undone.) Any time thereafter, when we partake of the Light, more darkness has to flee from our souls. Nourishing Light causes us to grow and bloom and beautify our world.
Because Christians are "one with the Lord" (1 Corinthians 6:17), we too are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-15). As evangelists, preachers, teachers, prophets, intercessors, et al. (every spiritual warrior), we have the heart of God, so we echo His words, “Let there be Light!” We send it forth into murky hearts, dreary homes, oppressive relationships, unholy environments, and to every place of darkness we encounter.
Today, the flames of individual Christians are uniting. Choreographed by the Lord, they're forming a raging fire that spreads throughout the world. Darkness is being exposed. Truth is being illumined and magnified. Enlightened choices are now being made. And as always, God is glorified.
Dear Lord, we love Your Light. Thank You for removing the darkness from our lives. Thank You for transforming us. Please expose the lingering shadows You find in our souls, then help us submit to further transformation. Please bless our families and friends with increased levels of Your Light. Give them each a "spirit of wisdom and revelation" concerning You (Ephesians 1:17). Let them "not abide in darkness" (John 12:46).
The Year of Jubilee! . . . 12/22/15
On the heights of Mount Sinai, God gave Moses a message for His people:
And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family – Leviticus 25:10.
The heart of God has not changed since that day on the mountain with Moses. His commands and laws were a reflection of His love. They showed His desire to protect His people from physical and spiritual harm. The “Year of Jubilee” was to be observed every fifty years, beginning on the Day of Atonement (also called Yom Kippur).
The Day of Atonement was a foreshadow of something far greater. It spoke of Jesus’ blood that perfectly atones for our sin today. At the moment of Jesus' resurrection, the requirement of animal sacrifice ended (Hebrews 10:1-10).
The Year of Jubilee was also a foreshadow of things to come—of “far greater” freedom and restoration.
Let’s look at the Jubilee years of old. Each occurrence was a time of cancelling debt. All land that had been confiscated as payment for past-due debts was given back to the original owners. It was also a time of complete release from slavery. Even prisoners were set free. It was a time when restoration and “all things new” stood up tall and kicked oppression out of town.
Some say the Year of Jubilee foreshadows the thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth, when promises of restoration will be fulfilled. I don't disagree with that. But I'm one of those who looks for the blessing of God today.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living – Psalm 27:13.
I look for God's river of mercy and grace that abounds with all good things. At the moment of Jesus' resurrection, this river began to overflow its banks. And now, in this Year of Jubilee, we'll see a 50-year flood. But wait just a minute! This is also the 70th Jubilee year! The prophetic significance of 70 includes "rest, increase and restoration." With this unique convergence of God's favor, I'm sure we'll see a phenomenal flood.
Then he showed me the river whose waters give life, sparkling like crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb - Revelation 22:1 AMPC.
I don’t know about you, but my anticipation is rapidly rising. My excitement comes from knowing that God is about to move in astonishing ways, with beautiful blessings of life upon His people—blessings of harvest, healing and every kind of prosperity. The current Year of Jubilee began on September 22, 2015. I believe the coming "Jubilee moves" of God will be extremely bold. They will be incredible feats that overthrow the reasonable, logical and “credible” ways of man. The hand of God will be extravagant and spectacular. His work will be absolutely stunning.
How do I know these things? Because I hear the voice of God! He has been whispering “great and mighty things” to me on a personal and regional level for almost eight years. For a while, He told me His promises would arrive in His “perfect timing.” But now He’s whispering that the time is very near. My knowledge of these things is only one piece of a very large puzzle. The prophets I follow are hearing similar positive words, but with a broader application. The body of Christ around the world is hearing God “speak life” into valleys of dry bones.
Here is my suggestion for the new year: Instead of making a list of resolutions for 2016, why don’t you make a list of the promises you’ve received from God? Print the list in bold letters, and put it somewhere highly visible. The title of your list could proclaim “This is the Year of Jubilee!” There are certainly promises to be fulfilled outside of Jubilee, but I believe that God is planning a big display of His goodness this year.
And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” – Joshua 3:5.
Of course, we must not forget the importance of sanctification. We must prepare for our days of blessing. And in case the prospect of “getting ready” intimidates you, just remember: The grace of God enables us to submit to Him, to repent of our sin, to forgive others and to eventually obey Him in all things. The mercy of God will not look for perfection—just for a humble and sanctified heart.
Dear Lord, we thank You for the Year of Jubilee. For Christians today, You go far beyond restoration. You take us to the place of “all things new” (Revelation 21:5). We will not be disappointed, and neither will You. Your beautiful words will not come back void! Your works will be exceedingly abundant, beyond our imagination! Thank You for glorifying Your Name through our lives this coming year. We look forward to the show.
When God Repeats Himself . . . 11/12/15
Over the years, I’ve learned that when God repeats Himself, we should pay attention. My recent interaction with the Lord certainly is one of those times. He's been on a roll with me about “all things being new.” I've been reminded of this once or twice a day for a couple weeks. I have responded to God with praise and prayer and spiritual warfare. In my zeal to spread the good news, I've written a short blog post on the subject and also an article that focused on these words from Isaiah:
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? - Isaiah 43:19 ESV.
This morning, the subject came up again with new intensity: I sat in my rocking chair, hoping to connect with God in a tranquil, early-morning way. (Isn't this how Jesus did it—sitting on a comfortable rock, listening to the birds awaken and watching the dawn unfold as He quietly communed with His Father?) Well, I was having trouble being “tranquil.” My mind was here and there and everywhere. I apologized to God a few times, then attempted to focus on His presence—to no avail.
Finally, I stood up and began to praise the Lord. I declared His worthiness to be praised, and I spoke of His recent accomplishments in my heart and elsewhere. I praised Him for His work of making all things new. And that was when a floodgate opened on the theme of "all things being new." The Holy Spirit gave me words to proclaim, interspersed with me writing them down because of their importance. I'll share with you my notes because somebody will be helped by them:
All things are NEW! Things are not “according to demonic control” or “according to anger and unforgiveness.” Things are not “according to how they’ve always been.”
All things are NEW, according to the will of God—according to the heart and mind of God—according to the written Word of God—according to all that proceeds from the mouth of God, in whatever voice He uses! These things shall BE! These things ARE!
Today is a NEW DAY!
Let the Word of the Lord go forth upon the Earth and not return void!!!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new - 2 Corinthians 5:17.
After this interaction with God, I was fully awake. Any chance for tranquility was gone. Could it be that Jesus was not tranquil either when meeting His Father on the mountain at dawn? Could it be that His joy could not be contained in quietness? Maybe Jesus danced and sang with the birds and the rising sun. Maybe He was excited about His Father's love and the glorious things to come. Jesus surely knew that very soon His death and resurrection would change everything for those who believed in Him. Certainly He was excited about rescuing humanity from the death-grip of sin.
Now, won’t you join in Jesus’ excitement by declaring each day that everything is new? Whatever needs fixing, according to the Father’s will, let’s believe and declare that it is absolutely, irreversibly NEW!
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says…” - 11:22-23.
Dear Father, we thank You for the power You place in the words we speak—power that will cast mountains into the sea. Thank You for the persistent reminder that all things are new. And now we can take this truth and declare it to the downtrodden, weary world. Help us to boldly proclaim over health, relationships, finances, and government that they are indeed new. They have no choice.
* See INSPIRATION article directly below: "I Will do a New Thing...10/17/15 ." See blog post of 11/12/15.
I Will do a New Thing . . . 10/17/15
The normal Christian experience is not without hardship. Many of us have lived through truly difficult times. Today, our circumstances might be improved, but the past can still cause trouble for us, often without our being aware. Negative words from bygone years may cast a large shadow on our lives:
Just accept the way things are. People rarely change.
Don’t expect too much. This is how it will always be.
You had your chance, and you blew it. It's too late now.
You did a terrible thing, and you should be ashamed.
You're not special enough to accomplish anything of significance.
These messages don’t arrive as clearly spoken words. If they did, we would probably reject them right away because they conflict with scripture. Instead, they come as memories that evolve and linger within us as attitudes and emotions. Without our conscious permission, these destructive sentiments undermine our faith in God and His word: We may believe what the Spirit and the Word tell us, but it’s often a struggle to do so. We know that God is faithful and good, but way down deep, we don’t expect miracles to come our way. The little stuff, maybe, but nothing big.
Again—these negative attitudes are not conscious choices. They are almost-hidden mindsets that can permeate our present and spoil our future.
But God has good news for us! Today, all things are new! If we are in Christ, the past has lost its power to control us in negative ways.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new – 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Yes, all things really are new. God has removed our "ashes" and given us beauty instead! (Isaiah 61:3). We can apply this truth to every aspect of our lives—beginning with our thoughts.
Please stop right now, and ask the Lord to expose any destructive voices that are calling from previous years. If we hear them clearly, then we can reject them once-and-for-all as lies. Remember: Jesus came to set the captives free from all oppression (Luke 4:18, Isaiah 61:1), and that applies to each one of us.
Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen. This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise – Isaiah 43:18-21.
Possessing faith that is strengthened each day by truth, we can join with God to transform any barren, fruitless fields in our lives. We can plow and prepare the hard ground, plant good seed, and water it with the Word. Then, having done all, we can wait with confident expectation. One day soon, vibrant new growth will sprout, and miracles will spring forth!
Thank You, Lord, for Your powerful Presence within us. Your beautiful vision opens our eyes. The love in Your voice opens our ears. Let us always see and hear and know what You have for us and for others. Thank You so much for freeing us from the past.