Removing Me

 

Hebrews 12 is one of those chapters in God’s Word where you can start highlighting from verse 1 and end up highlighting all of them down to verse 29.  I read this chapter recently and just yesterday I was reminded again of the last 5 verses of Hebrews 12:

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

Check out how The Message says it:

25-27 So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.  28-29 Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

One of the things that really stands out to me is verse 25.  “See to it that you don’t refuse Him who is speaking.”  Do we really believe that the Lord our God is speaking to us today?  I  most certainly do!  What on earth would we do if He wasn’t speaking?  What a hopeless existence we would have…and boring!  My two closest friends and prayer partners often just laugh at what a total blast it is to know the Lord Jesus and experience His power in our lives.  Oh yes, Sisters, He is speaking!

BUT…honestly and truly and openly, we need to consider this.

Are we refusing Him in any way?

How often to do we just plain ignore Him?

Are we turning a deaf ear to our Savior with all the distractions and busyness in our lives?

If He ever lives to intercede for us, shouldn’t we ever live to listen for His voice & worship Him?

Recently I’ve been attending an intercessory prayer class a different church in my town.  Something suggested to us in the first class was to begin praying Psalm 139:23-24:

When I invite Him to come in and to search me and try me and to know my anxious thoughts and to shine His light on the darkness of my offensive ways, THAT is me receiving Him!  When you get the spiritual guts up to actually ask Him to invade your inner-most motives, it is such a picture of us receiving Him.  We then receive Him in His fullness.  We come ready to respond; our hearts set to do His will and actually follow the way everlasting.

When I tune my ear to hear His voice, I’m receiving His Kingdom which cannot be shaken.

Inviting Him in, I’m agreeing with Him, and my heart is joining with His and becoming one.

I really believe that this is when our worship becomes acceptable, filled with reverence and awe, like Hebrews 12:28 says.  Then we can worship in spirit and in truth, because the lies we’ve been believing and living are then exposed in the brilliant light of His glory and holiness.

Isn’t that what we want, y’all?  We want the Lord Jesus to search & shake & cut & remove every dead branch in us that is not bearing MUCH fruit.  We want to be pruned because we KNOW that He is a God of His Word. We KNOW that it is for our own good when He cuts us back.  We KNOW that we can trust Him.

But, isn’t it so incredibly difficult not to resist His sheers when we see them coming?! These sinful and selfish wills of ours refuse death at all costs it seems. Self is laden with this ‘never say die’ insolence; it’s born within our flesh from the beginning. But, what rescues us from this plague of human nature bent on self-preservation?  I think I have a good idea, and it’s found in Isaiah chapter 6.

This account has long captured my imagination.  It’s Isaiah’s testimony of having encountered our Living God in all His holiness.

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Have you ever encountered God like that?

Some of you may remember me giving my testimony in a post I shared a couple years ago: “How God Broke Me Out of My Striving.”  That was the encounter with the Lord that literally redirected the entire trajectory of my life.  Until we see Him for Who He really is, we can’t get a clear look at ourselves.  And we cannot rely on a 1-time repentance to keep us going God’s direction.  Sin is ever before us.  Our enemy seeks to destroy us.  Our flesh rises up within us against the knowledge of our Living God.  This examination and repentance has to be daily, lest our enemy get a foothold!

Even recently when I started praying Psalm 139:23-24, I was not aware of any overt or unconfessed sin in my life.  I feel like I’m hearing the Holy Spirit speak to my heart quite regularly.  My desire for Him is increasing, and along with that I understand that the enemy of our souls seeks to destroy each of those things by whatever means he can.  The enemy will take whatever foothold we give him, so we must be on guard.  We want to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves, as Jesus said.

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So, what happens when you start asking the Lord to test you and try you and see if there are offensive ways in your heart?  He starts revealing stuff we’d rather not believe about ourselves.  Things that don’t make it onto Facebook and Instagram feeds.  It’s ugly.  And vile.  Our offensive ways do not define who we are anymore, praise Jesus, we really are NEW creations!  But, offensive ways in us must be dealt with and slain ASAP!  How can we have clean hands and pure hearts if we don’t ever invite the Lord God to examine us inside and out?

Our hearts collectively as His Bride are what our Bridegroom is after.  The Father is after my whole heart and your whole heart.  And He wants us to be Holy as He is Holy.

Recently, I began reading a book called, “The Days of His Presence” by Francis Frangipane. There is a quote I want to share with you where he refers to an experience he had with God Almighty, much like the Isaiah 6 encounter.  I read this just days ago and I cannot get over it.

With my inner eyes I discovered the truth about my righteousness.  Remember, I felt close to the Lord.  As a man who was seeking God with fasting, I considered my spiritual condition to be good.  Yet I suddenly became aware of my true human condition.  The flaws in my life became unbearably vivid and utterly sinful.  I saw my iniquity not as something I occasionally committed but something I perpetually was.

I became instantly aware of the many times I could have been more loving or kind or sensitive, but I hardened my heart instead.  I also saw how instinctively selfish nearly all of my thoughts and actions were.  Yet for all that was resident within me of unrighteousness, I felt no rebuke from the Lord, nor did I feel condemnation.  No voice came from Heaven to convict me of my wrongs.  The only voice condemning me was my own; in the light of His presence I abhorred myself (see Job 42:6 KJV)

Without any buffer of self-justification or deceit, with no other person but God to whom to compare myself, I saw how far short of His glory I truly was.  I knew why mankind needed the atoning blood of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  And I knew that no amount of personal attainment in and of itself could ever make me like Jesus.  In the most profound way, I understood that only Christ could live like Christ.  God’s plan was not to improve me but to remove me so that the Lord Jesus Himself could actually live His life through me (Galatians 2:20).  In His indwelling would rest my hope of becoming like Him.

That last three sentences are the ones I can’t get over.  Only Jesus can live like Jesus.  God’s plan is not to improve me but to remove me so that that Lord Jesus Himself can actually life His life through me.  Him indwelling me is my hope of becoming like Him.

Galatians 2:20 (Amplified Bible)

I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Colossians 3:3 in the NLT says, “For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Amen, Lord Jesus!  I surrender!  Come and take over!

So, let’s be brave.  Let’s not refuse Him in any way.  Let’s get the spiritual guts to fall face-down in front of Him and ask Him to show us what needs to be confessed and forsaken and slain.  He’s gentle and humble in Spirit, He is kind, and He is good. He has great plans for us, there are good works He’s prepared in advance for us, and He loves moldable clay vessels in His hands.  And let’s worship Him like we never have before.

It occurs to me that we are living in days where luke-warmth will not stand.  We are in critical hours, Girls, and we have the distinct privilege of calling Him our King.  Oh, that our lives would be a sweet smelling incense to Him.  That our communication with Him would be open and honest and fully-committed to do His will.

Lord Jesus, make us about Your business and whatever it takes to serve You, give us hearts willing to obey.  You are so worthy of our entire lives poured out for You, and You are so worth it!

 

 

 

 

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Faithful God

In light of what we witnessed on November 8th into the early hours of November 9th, 2016, all I can say over and over is:

1) Thank You for Your mercies, Jesus!

2) We serve the God of miracles!

3) Now is when the war fought on our knees really begins!

I fully realize the divide in our nation, and even that there are other believers that do not share my opinion & feelings.  My prayer becomes that we really would be unified as the body of Christ and as a nation, truly one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  As much as I have prayed, believed, fasted, and cried out to the Lord over this election, I have a confession: my faith was NOT strong on Tuesday, November 8th mid-morning to early afternoon. I was believing the enemy’s lie that the Church was too little too late.  There was a very ominous realization that we could have a very, very different United States of America by the time my little boy is a teenager, one that our forefathers would not even recognize.  That America would be a nation no longer able to be called “one nation under God” by any stretch of the imagination.  Even though I KNEW the Lord had instructed me to keep my eyes off what was seen and on what is unseen, but foolishly in my mind, I went there.

“What if the Lord doesn’t move on our behalf?”

“What if our nation takes the dive head-long into the abyss, completely deceived?”

But, when Ohio “went red” last night everything changed.  I knew deep in my bones God was doing what we had so diligently and desperately prayed!  We asked Him to restore righteousness in our land…to heal our land.  There was only one candidate that carried the hope of the restoration of righteous judges in the land, only one candidate that stood for life.

Ohio was highly significant to me for a couple of reasons.  I was in Middletown, Ohio exactly 1 year ago at the Appeal to Heaven Conference, on a prayer assignment from the Lord with my Mom and my 2 co-workers.  It was centered completely around praying for our nation.  In just the past 2 months, revival has broken out in the state of Ohio especially among high school kids!  It’s been through God’s sovereign timing in a movement called “Revive Ohio” (through the ministry Time to Revive). As we watched the live coverage on TV, then came Florida & North Carolina as the next critical states to go red.  Both are states where Time to Revive has been pouring into cities with the Gospel & carrying the message of unity in the Body of Christ.

As the body of Christ in America, we really had prayed and believed 2 Chronicles 7:14 faithfully for our nation.  I cannot begin to count how many nationwide simulcast prayer events and prayer calls sprang up in response to the Lord calling us to cry out to Him.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

However, American Christians are not the only ones who were praying for America!   It seems the world could feel how significant this outcome would be.  One of the most touching to my heart was a group of thousands of believers from all nations who gathered in Jerusalem on November 7th and they cried out to the Father for America.

Locally, 2 Chronicles 7:14 gripped our whole county.  30-40 different churches committed to preaching on this same topic for 4 weeks leading up to the election.  It culminated with a prayer gathering held Sunday night before the election.

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It’s estimated 4,000-5,000 men, women, and children of all ages and denominational backgrounds showed up at a park just off our little town square to worship the Lord God and pray together over this election. (photo credit: Isaac Duke)

In each of these gatherings, believers humbled ourselves, we prayed, we sought His face, we confessed sin and began turning away from wickedness and “Lord, forgive our sins and heal our Land” was our mighty request of the Father.  I believe that because of His mercy, His grace, and His immense kindness, He did hear us from heaven.  Oh yes, and glory to His Name, we will watch Him as He heals our land!  Not one thing has changed yet on a large scale, yet this we call to mind & therefore we have hope, His mercies are new every single morning.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, I fully believe He intended to revive His Church from our slumber.  Trump or Clinton, we are destined to become unified as the body of Christ because our Father loves to give His Son what He asks for.  Jesus prayed for US in John 17:21-23.

21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.  22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.

Jesus asked that we would be one so the world would know He came.  We get to take that personally!  And as my sweet friend pointed out to me, as we watched state after state go “red” it was as if you could watch the blood of Jesus cover us.  We were seeing a picture of His mercy triumph over judgement.  His mercy rained down on us.

I had been so disturbed recently by Barak Obama’s words as he took the stage in support of Hillary Clinton.  His phrasing was this: “Let’s finish the job!”  In my mind, it’s as if I could hear the enemy’s voice in those words, “Let’s put the nail in the coffin of what this nation was created to be.”  YET, our God is greater than he who is in the world!  What the enemy absolutely intended for our destruction, our God meant for good.  Just days after he had said those words, I witnessed another miracle while watching President Obama’s first addressed the public following the elections.  When he spoke about the peaceful transfer of power between he and Donald Trump; I was genuinely impressed by his sincerity.  This was not the same Barak Obama we have come to know, he was different it seemed…humbled maybe.  Come to think of it, in the Presidential acceptance speech on Tuesday night, neither was it the Donald Trump we’ve come to know.  The Prince of Peace is on the move, and may America’s government be on His shoulders (Isaiah 9).

I believe as we watched the Lord miraculously move across our nation Tuesday night, we got the double portion of blessing instead of the curse.  He is going to revive His Bride and He is going to heal our land.  But the mantle on us, the body of Christ, is that we must continue to humble ourselves, continue to pray, continue to flee from the devil and draw near to God.  We are to be the salt and light in this generation on the earth.  Our next assignment, as the Church, has just now begun!

Because of this election outcome, the option for our nation to be under God is alive!  He is a God of His word and the God of miracles!  My hope is placed firmly in that fact, and not any man nor any other elected official.  I firmly believe that our King of Kings deposes and raises up earthly kings to reside over nations.  I believe that He has chosen Donald Trump for such a time as this and we are to be lifting this man and so many other leaders in prayer.

I am firmly believing God for the turning of our nation back to Him…for a third great awakening in this nation. There are fields ripe for harvest, may we be willing to be sent out into His harvest fields.  May we carry the Good News to a dying and deceived world with love, and joy, and peace, and patience, and kindness, with goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  May we carry God’s grace and truth and speak with boldness.

At 2:44am I watched Gov. Pence take the stage as the VP-elect. This is a man whose Bible was open to the book of Acts on his desk as friends at the True Woman Conference in September toured his office in Indianapolis.  It was the same day of the Cry Out women’s national prayer event that we hosted in our town.  In 1857, on the same day (September 23rd) a nationwide revival began which started with a very small group of people committed to prayer (You can listen to the story here).   There are no coincidences!

There are many things that I do not know and do not yet understand, but this is what I do know:

  • Our God is an all-consuming fire.
  • His hand is not too short to intervene.  Ever.
  • Nothing is too hard for Him!!!
  • We witnessed one of the greatest miracles of our lifetime last night in the national realm.  All glory goes to our great & awesome God because no man can explain it.
  • Now we get serious about praying for President-Elect Donald Trump, VP-Elect Mike Pence, and every other elected official & cabinet member & Supreme Court justice, both currently and the ones who will be appointed.
  • Now we press forward in believing Him for even greater miracles of healing and alignment in the body of Christ & our nation at large.

We must become messengers of His goodness and grace like never before to our fellow Americans who have a very different ideology of the direction America should go.  Blessed are the peacemakers…may we be peace makers in Jesus Name.  May His grace on our lives be contagious and winsome, our words seasoned with salt because there is much hurt and confusion out there.  Jesus is the answer to all of it.  And we get the privilege of being His hands and His feet…

I want to leave you with a portion of the statement given by Dutch Sheets on November 9th, 2016:

Last night, as the results came in, I wept, knowing that mercy had, indeed, triumphed over judgment (James 2:13).

While I rejoice, however, I also realize there is still much work to do. Though it is appropriate to celebrate, we must remember this is only a beginning. Yes, it can be the new beginning we have so passionately craved, but it is still just that—the beginning. In the words of the immortal Winston Churchill, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

As for me, I intend to do my part to ensure that the Church doesn’t go back to sleep. I will continue to work tirelessly for the fullness of a great revival—a third great awakening—to sweep across America and the world. Nothing else will empower us to finish what has begun. And we must continue to pray for President-elect Trump and our other government leaders. For this assignment, however, I simply say, “Well done, praying Church, well done.” –Dutch Sheets

 

 

Loving Him with EVERYTHING: Our God is an All-Consuming Fire

So, the concept found in Genesis 29:20 has just totally seized my heart.

So Jacob served 7 years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

I started out meditating on this verse yesterday, then the Lord completely turned my attention on another passage of scripture. The thought of really loving the LORD our God that way is overwhelming me. The way that Jacob loved Rachel is how we should love the LORD our God.  Immediately I thought of Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37 when He told us what the greatest commandment is.

Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-15.  And it has just totally unwound me as I’ve read it this morning; it’s one of those moments where I can’t read the words on the page through tears. The greatest commandment given us is to LOVE the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The greatest. It’s the first scripture that Jewish children ever memorize. Deuteronomy 6. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. I beg you to read this slowly and personalize what He is saying here. Let’s just not read it like we always do. Don’t allow it to be familiar to you right now.

Deuteronomy 6:4-15  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and tie shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob to give you – with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant – and when you eat and are full then take care lest you forget the LORD, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by His name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods the gods of the peoples who are around you – for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God – lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and He destroy you from off the face of the earth.

The Lord showed me these verses as if they were smaller edible pieces.  It made me think of a couple scriptures where His Word is compared to food.  Here’s what Jeremiah said,

Jeremiah 15:16  When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.

Here’s what the LORD told Ezekiel,

Ezekiel 3:3  Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.

Lord, may we be hungry for You today. If we’re not, I pray for a supernatural hunger to come over us even at this moment. Every other god that is vying for our attention and affection, make it sickening to us as we seek You, the LORD our God. May we be satisfied with nothing else, Lord Jesus, You alone!

So, here we go.  Let’s break Deuteronomy 6:4-15 into edible slices:

v. 4a  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

The Hebrew word here, like many other Hebrew words, is difficult to fully encompass in English. I prefer the NIV because it says “all of your heart, mind, soul and strength.” It’s all of those. Our entire being. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus is telling the Jews to whom He’s speaking to go back to the most basic of knowledge of the LORD their God. The very first thing they ever learned as a child is that they should love Him with everything they are and everything they have.

v. 4b  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

He wants our hearts so much. I could give an exhaustive list of all the times the Word of God implores us to give Him our whole hearts and how He despises our “religious acts” if our hearts are not fully His. Oh, LORD God, forgive us. Forgive us for checking off boxes in our lists of what we can do for You, when we don’t really even think of You at all while we’re doing it. Oh Father, we repent.

Even now, let’s have the spiritual guts to examine our motives. Better yet, let’s have the spiritual guts to ask Him to circumcise our hearts completely and cut away every part that is impure. Father, test us and try us and see if there be any offensive ways in us, then lead us in The Way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)

vv. 5-9 You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and tie shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

May He be the central theme of our lives. May His praise be on our lips continually (Psalm 34:1). May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in His sight (Psalm 19:14). May we be bold in our going out and in every word we speak (Acts 4:29). There are so many things we could say about these verses in Deuteronomy 6. Oh, LORD our God, help us. Make us creative and bold and obedient in the walking out of these commands.

vv. 10-12  And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob to give you – with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant – and when you eat and are full then take care lest you forget the LORD, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

He has a land in which to bring each one of us. There are lands where we will place our feet that He will give to us. Our boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places (Psalm 16:5-6) and He knows where each one is at (Acts 17:26).

Think about how many things God has done in our lives that we #1 – do NOT deserve and #2 – that we ourselves had nothing to do with it coming to pass. He is a Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children (Luke 11:13). Every single one of us enjoy the incomparable benefits of His love and His goodness, deserving none of it!

We get into so much trouble when we think we’re doing God favors or that He’s really lucky to have us on His side. We are deceived when we believe that our blessings come from our own good behavior. He is no respecter of persons. It is His grace alone. It is His magnificent grace that provides blessing and provision and victory. We are SO quick to forget Him when we rely on ourselves. We fill our bellies with so many things that we forget Him. It happened over and over again to the nation of Israel, do we think it won’t happen to us?

He ALONE has set us free from our past bondage. You and I were slaves to sin, we were in a ditch that we could not save ourselves from, and it was The Lord alone Who rescued us out of the darkness into His marvelous light. Oh Father, do not let us forget Your wonderful works! Father, expose our self-reliance and self-exaltation. Expose our reliance on anything other than You. Cause our minds to recognize Your hand of blessing and provision and victory so that we may praise Your Name!!! Crucify our flesh every time it rears its head, Lord Jesus! We have been crucified with You, help us remember it is no longer we who live but You who lives in us!!!

v. 13 It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by His name you shall swear.

Amplified Bible: You shall fear [only] the Lord your God; and you shall serve Him [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect] and swear [oaths] by His name [alone].

Father, rid us completely of the fear of man, it is a snare to us (Proverbs 29:25). Oh God, that we would recognize it in ourselves immediately. Holy Spirit shine light on our fear of anything but the LORD our God! Fear the LORD alone, oh my soul. Give us undivided hearts that we may fear Your Name (Psalm 86:11).

We want to serve You will awe-filled reverence and profound respect. In this world, we want Your Name to be known and ours to be forgotten. Lord Jesus, may Your Name alone be on the banner we wave.

Jesus quotes this same verse in Deuteronomy 6:13 to satan during His wilderness temptation (for the record I purposely do not capitalize the name of the enemy when I write it, it’s just a thing I do that symbolically keeps him in his un-exalted place.)

Luke 4:8 Jesus replied to him, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.’”

Only You, Jesus. Only You. You are our Bridegroom coming for a bride who has made herself ready. Oh that You would find us pure and spotless, not giving our hearts to another.

vv.14-15  You shall not go after other gods the gods of the peoples who are around you – for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God – lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and He destroy you from off the face of the earth.

We are so foolish when we go after anyone or anything but God. Fearing Him is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).

All else falls short.
All else is lacking.
All else is deception.

He alone is to be feared.
He alone worshiped.
He alone pursued.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. He is an all-consuming fire. He is a jealous God. He will not stand for the love due Him to be showered elsewhere. He hates adultery. He alone is due our full affection. He alone is worthy of our whole hearts. His eyes search this entire planet searching, looking, seeking those of us who would bow our hearts completely to Him alone.

2 Chronicles 16:9a  NIV – For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

ESV – For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

NASB – For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

NLT – The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

 

It is our connection with Him and to Him that contains all the strength and the power we would ever need. He is the power source.  If I lack love, He is my source.  If I lack endurance, He is my source.  If I lack anything I need, I must connect with my Father in Heaven to receive it.

And if I want to connect to Him, I have got to look at Him. His eyes are searching THE ENTIRE WORLD, y’all. The whole thing!!! His eyes are looking and searching to and fro and and when He finds those of us who are looking back at Him!  Picture that in your mind for a moment.

See your eyes connecting with His.  Feel that intimacy.  Look into His eyes.

Listen to how John describes His eyes in Revelation 1:14 AMP

His [all-seeing] eyes were [flashing] like a flame of fire [piercing into my being].

His eyes are looking everywhere for the ones of His children who are looking for Him! And He is an all-consuming fire. His eyes pierce into my being. The flames of all-consuming fire in His eyes consume my entire being. Come on!!! My heart is about to jump out of my chest!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A million times, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DO IT, LORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s when it catches fire. That’s when we receive what we need. He knows where we need strength. We are weak, He is strong, oh how we need Him! He’s the source of all we need.

You know what just blows me away. He just wants our love. He just wants everything. Shouldn’t it just be simple to look honestly at our lives and see where we’re bowing to another? If we will crucify our flesh long enough and get the spiritual guts to ask Holy Spirit, He will show us where we are not returning to our first love. He will expose what is lukewarm in us. He is an all-consuming fire. If we are allowing His love to pierce our being, we WILL either heat up or we walk away, there is no other option.

Listen to Deuteronomy 4:23-24 AMP, just 2 chapters prior to what we’ve been studying in Deuteronomy 6:

So be on your guard and watch yourselves, so that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He has made with you, and make for yourselves a carved or sculpted image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire; He is a jealous (impassioned) God [demanding what is rightfully and uniquely His].

Jesus Christ our Messiah purchased you & I when He hung on the tree and satisfied the wrath of God on our behalf. We are rightfully His. We are uniquely His. He can do with us exactly what He wants if we are willing. The question is, do we love Him with our whole hearts and do we trust Him?

Holy Spirit, right now, expose every area we attempt to hold back because we have created for ourselves an image in the form of anything which You have forbidden. Expose it now. We want our eyes looking fully into Your wonderful face. Make the things of earth dim to us as we seek You and find You! Oh Father, that we would seek You with ALL of our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13) !!!

This entire post started with a verse in Genesis 29 speaking of Jacob serving 7 years and it seeming as nothing to him because of Rachel, the one whom he loved. His eyes were on her. He knew that she was the territory destined to be his. He kept her in the forefront of his mind as he labored for Laban, even when he was cheated and done wrong, his heart was fully with the one he loved. And that made 7 long years seem as a few days.

What is your heart longing for?
What have you not seen happen that you believe God has said would come to pass?
Have you grown weary?
Is 7 years feeling like 700 years instead of a few days?
Where are your eyes?
What are you looking to?
Who are you trusting in?
Where are your eyes focused?
On what do you have your heart set?

Matthew 24:12-13  Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Sisters, we are in desperate need of divine endurance. We are surrounded by sin. We are surrounded by an enemy who seeks to destroy us and our testimonies and our families and our communities and our nation. We have seen the love of many grow cold, and even our own has grown lukewarm and cold at times. But, the one who endures to the end will be saved. We will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Our God is an all-consuming fire. Let Him pierce your heart today and ignite a fire that cannot be quenched.

Father, send enduring fire into our hearts. Consume us. Burn away every ounce of flesh and self that we have made into an idol which You forbid. Shake everything so that what cannot be shaken remains (Hebrews 12:27-28). Father, pluck out by the root every single thing in our hearts that You have not planted (Matthew 15:13). We are holy vessels. Oh that we would be useful. Oh that we would be ready.

2 Timothy 2:21-22  Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [which are dishonorable—disobedient, sinful], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified [set apart for a special purpose and], useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Run away from youthful lusts—pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those [believers] who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Consume us, Lord! Consume us with a holy passion for You! Set our hearts on fire! You are worthy and You are worth it!

Worship Him with this awesome song asking Him to set a fire down in our souls, asking Him for more.  Lord Jesus, we want more!  Oh that He would increase and we decrease…

On the Waves: When Jesus doesn’t do what you think He’s going to do

Great faith chooses to get out of the boat.

Great faith chooses to walk toward Jesus and believe Him when He calls.

Great faith keeps her eyes fixed on His eyes and looks full in His wonderful face.

Great faith chooses HIM regardless of the temptations that are swelling all around her.

Reality is that life outside the boat can be flat-out scary.  Minimally, it can be uncomfortable.  All manner of temptation lurks attempting to take your focus off of Jesus.

  1. temptation to look around at the progressive waves of your own flesh and Satan’s attacks ready to take you under, one after another…after another

  2. temptation to consider the actual depth of the waters you find yourself in

  3. temptation to know the vast limitations of your own swimming skills and your general lack of endurance

  4. temptation to lean on your own understanding that walking on water is, in fact, not humanly possible

  5. temptation to think that you can do this water-walking alone or that your way is perhaps better than His, which is blatantly preposterous given points 1-4, and yet remains a temptation never-the-less

  6. temptation to hear the safety of the boat beckoning you to get back in for goodness sake and dry off and get warm, are you crazy? who does this?  protect yourself!!!

  7. temptation to tell Him “no thanks” the next time He invites you out, this water-walking of great faith is fine for someone who is stronger than you or knows more than you or actually has the mustard seed’s worth of faith He asks in order to see some kind of miracle like this

But, Jesus.  But, JESUS.  BUT, JESUS!!!  Praise His Name!

He never leaves.  He always rescues.

I don’t believe I’ve ever been out on the deep waters of faith like I am right now.  Certainly not this deep.  I don’t recall having an opportunity to believe for the impossible as much as I have this year.  The first 3 months of 2016 were smooth sailing, quite honestly.  Not many waves at all, it wasn’t very scary and quite frankly I had literally received every answer I wanted from the Lord for some pretty bold requests. Particularly, I had been tracking dead-on with my expectations being very high in what I knew God could do and expectations very low as to the “how” He might do them.  But, last night was the 2nd time in 2 weeks that I got a neti-pot style cleansing of the sinuses with salty sea water (great analogy brought to you from last week’s episode of Living Proof with Beth Moore)…because last night I took my eyes off my Savior for a second and looked fully at what my human brain was willing to wrap around.  This is not an effective tactic when you are out on the water.  Just ask Peter.  It’s always better to recognize Who Jesus is, and stick with Him.

In this particular situation last night though, I saw only what did Jesus not do instead of what He did…even though He performed a total miracle.  Have you ever done that?

Then, I sulled up.  I don’t know if that’s actually a word, y’all. But that’s what my Dad says when a horse he’s training stops responding to him; basically the horse goes into lockdown about to throw a fit.  It’s the same word we use in our family when people act like that (finger pointing directly at ME).  All in my heart.  Every bit of it.  Outwardly, I was saying words of thanksgiving and gratitude and acting how I was supposed to act when God comes through in such a massive way.

Mere words never fool God though.  He doesn’t care all that much about our “external” looking good, does He?  He tells us over and over and over again it’s the condition of our heart that He’s concerned about.  And when I woke up this morning after partially repenting and knowing my heart was not right, He was right there inviting me into full-on repentance.

I was not the 1 leper who came running to Jesus’ feet when I realized what He had done like I should have been (Luke 17).  He deserved massive praise from me!  He deserved tears of joy and my heart to have been leaping out of my chest in thanksgiving!  But, that’s not what He received from me last night.  The sin of pride crept in mightily underneath me and enveloped me and brought me crashing down hard, as pride always does (Proverbs 16:18).  And no one else knows.  Only me and my patient, kind, Holy and wonder-working God.  (Well, now y’all do…but we are to confess our sin to one another, right? (James 5:16))

I was offended that He didn’t perform the miracle I was believing Him for in the way that I expected it.  I was annoyed in my spirit that His method of healing was different than I had made my mind up that it would be.  He didn’t follow my orders.

My hands literally shake even typing those 5 words.  But, it’s the truth.  That’s why I withheld my praise.

I ask the Lord continually not to let my flesh get away with anything displeasing to Him.  And, He didn’t.  He didn’t let me stay hard-hearted very long, praise His Name.  He didn’t have to beat my wayward thinking out of me, either. (Insert memories of stubborn horses who have not been so fortunate).  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11 ESV).  He always knows what we need.  He’s a good, good Father that way, isn’t He?

As Romans 2:4 says, it was His kindness that led me to repentance.  And as only God can, He timed it where I had to read Matthew chapter 11 out loud to my family in our nightly Bible reading when all of this battle was happening in my heart.  It’s the story of when John the Baptist is in prison asking if Jesus really is the One.  It’s when John is sitting there thinking, “There is NO WAY if Jesus is who He says He is that He’s leaving me in this prison!”  And you know what Jesus sent John’s disciples to go back and tell him…

Blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.  (Matthew 11:6 ESV)

He loved John so much.  But, Jesus didn’t do what John expected.  John had a really hard outcome awaiting him and he had to trust that Jesus was who He said He was.  And Jesus wanted John to experience blessing.

Offense never brings blessing.

Humility before and trust in Jesus always does.

And when I woke up this morning I heard the Lord say to my heart, “Look fully into my face.”  In other words, He was asking me to look at His eyes.  Just like I try to get my sulled-up 4 year old to do when he’s upset so that I can speak truth and life to him.  Just like Jesus was doing for John the Baptist.

He’s so kind.

He knows that if we will look at His eyes our feet will not sink into the ocean of doubt surrounding us.

And you know what is starting to well up in my heart right now…12 hours after my highly disappointing water-walking performance?  I’m starting to feel Him call me out there again with Him.

He has brought me way too far to turn back now.  I’m out here with Him.  Come what feels like hell or at least high waters, I am His.  The truth is that the gates of hell actually will NOT prevail!  It can feel like it, it can look like it, and it can seem like all of it is breaking loose in your circumstances in front of everyone or maybe only in your own heart where no one else knows.  When Jesus said, “It is finished.” He meant it, and Satan knows it.  Our battle with flesh and enemy are not over just yet, but we can rest assured that we are overcomers because we belong to Jesus!

And He is always good.  And He never leaves us.  And He never forsakes.

He loves us, as my little boy says, “Really MUCH!”

He is an ‘again’ kind of God.  He delights when we humble ourselves and realize how much we need Him.  I had to realize that I have NO idea what all He did in this situation.  Someday I will find out, and He will put an exclamation point on His sovereignty.  And, I’ll rejoice again that He did not leave me in my pit of haughtiness.

We know that it’s impossible to please Him without faith.  And I want to please Him.  I want to hear Him say well-done.  I know you do, too.

We want to look full in His wonderful face because it’s that same face that bowed before the Father and sweat drops of blood because His own will was not matching up with the Father’s at the moment.  He was willing to deny Himself and take up His cross so that you and I could get out of the boat with Him one more time in great faith.

He’s trustworthy for a million reasons…mostly because He’s been where I am, but He didn’t fail.  He has felt all the emotions I have but didn’t sin.  He’s felt more pain than I’ll ever imagine, and walked through more heart-breaking situations with His children over millennia and it didn’t keep Him from radically leaving His throne to rescue the 1.

I want to be more like Him.

Whatever He says, I’m in again.  Wherever He leads, I’m going.

Whatever He is doing in the Earth and has a mind to invite me to walk with Him…I’m all in with Jesus.

And it’s not because I trust me.

I don’t.

I trust Him.

 

All to Him I Owe…

If You didn’t do what You did, I would not be able to live.

If you didn’t do what You did, I’d be lost as I could be.

I’d be blind, begging, dying.  And all without hope.

Lost, blind, begging and dying in a lost and dying world…

BUT, The Cross.

BUT, our Good Good Father saw fit to make a way so it didn’t have to be that way.

BUT, YOU, my precious Savior.  The perfect, spotless, blemish-less, sinless Lamb Who laid down Your life of Your own accord.

You went.  You suffered inconceivable pain and shame and separation for me.  For them.  For all of us.

Every act foretold in days long, long past.  Every detail fulfilled.

From the senseless hatred that drove men to kill.

To Your brilliant mercy & grace that would tear the veil of separation once and for all.

All of this, SO THAT sinners could be saved.

…like me

…like you

…like the very high priests and religious leaders who offered Him up on false charges that day

…the same crowd members on Sunday, who were pleased to shout Hosanna waving palm branches with one hand while the other launched their cloaks into the dust for Him, by Friday screaming “Crucify Him” with all the other sheep who had gone astray.

…like every single one of us

We were all lost and dying without hope.  Lost and dying and deserving hell.

BUT, Jesus.

BUT, You!  Yeshua, our Hamashiach – You didn’t back down.

You didn’t flee or crack under the pressure.

Quite literally the weight of the entire world for all of eternity was on You.

And you bore our sin.  On purpose.

The enemy really thought he had you.  He thought he won.  But, my oh my, what a surprise  he must have had when You got up!

The victory that I get to claim is the one that Jesus won.  And He gave it to me.

Is that not the greatest and most unfair and excessive gift in all of time?

Life for death.  And a crown of righteousness for my head.

Not only that, but He covered me in a robe of righteousness.  He exchanged and bore my sinful nature so that I can be adorned in jewels; a bride pure and spotless.

He took my tears and gave me joy.  He took my evil and made me holy.

In Him, my regret becomes hope.  My ugly past is redeemed for a beautiful future.

He took my spirit of heaviness and gave me a mantle of praise.

My broken heart was made new.

My broken mind was made pure.

My broken spirit was made whole.

He got wounded and I got healed.

And I think I owe Him my life.

I really do.  I look at all of that, and as I write these words it just makes total sense to me that my life is, in fact, NOT my own.

He sought me and then He bought me with His redeeming blood.

And pouring my life out for Him, holding nothing back from Him, living to obey and follow and listen for His voice every second of every single day is actually what makes sense to me.

If Jesus paid it all, then ALL to Him I owe.

He’s worthy…and He’s worth it!!!

He is risen, we are free and I am rejoicing!  Happy Resurrection Sunday!!!

With Unveiled Faces…

There’s something about opening the pages of a new journal this morning that sets my heart on fire to see what my walk with Jesus will hold this trip around the sun.  The 3 journals stacked here on the left chronicled 2015.

 

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And today…today there’s fresh new pages.  There is a fresh new year to see God’s GOODNESS, to report of His GLORY, and to experience His GRACE revealed in the most wonderful of places and the most unexpected of scenes.

But before I move on too quickly, I always love being able to look back at what God was saying to me this time last year.  I wrote a blog about the word He gave me and my best friend for 2015 about prayer (which you can read here).  God DID radically transform my prayer life last year.  As I flipped through those early dates of 2015 I came across this…

It’s what I penned on 1/18/15, here’s what it says:

“Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.”

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 MSG

We all get to come. Unveiled, bare, holding nothing back, no doubts, no fear, no fighting what He’s saying, no resistance, no fluffing up or puffing up, no pouting or whining, no dressing-up or messing-with.  -God, remove the veil; nothing between You & us, Lord God.”

—So, this morning when I was reading this very entry I was amazed again at God’s perfect timing.  It was just last night I was standing in front of my mirror about to brush my teeth, and I was looking at my face.  I was pondering what it must have looked like when Moses’ face shone radiantly after having been with the Lord (so much so that he had to wear a veil).  I was thinking about what it means to be beautiful and how different God’s definition of beauty is compared with ours.

I want my life to shine like that, don’t you?  I want a life of beauty and a face that shines His love.  And the thing about what Paul is saying here in 2 Corinthians is that we get to be face-to-face with the Risen Messiah at any second of any 24-hour period. No wait necessary, and no veil needed. That thing was torn in half the day He defeated sin & death once and for all eternity (Matt 27:51, Heb 10:19-22) .

So, in 2016, let’s get rid of the veils of self-protection we love to wear.

Let’s run so close behind Him that the dust He kicks up gets all over us.

His ways becoming our ways.

Our lives looking more & more like His.

And just like the Message so beautifully translates 2 Corinthians 3:18… let’s shine brightly & beautifully the awesome LOVE and passion of Yeshua, our Deliverer and our Friend.