The Calling – In This Place

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You know it, “the calling”.  Typically a parent becomes the most popular, most sought after human being on the planet after 8:30pm at night. Am I right?! And we all know “the calling” and by the sound of our children’s voice we can pretty much predict exactly what each “calling” of our name is for. There is the incessant calling that turns your name into a song after you haven’t answered because they too know “no more drinks of water!”. There is the bathroom call that spouses always look at each other like they heard NOTHING because you should know “it’s YOUR turn!”.  There is the bad dream or fall out of bed call in which you almost insight your own death trying to get there fast enough to ensure you’re here and their going to live. Then there’s “it’s 9:00 but this is the time I thought it best to tell you I have an elaborate research / math project I need help with and it’s due tomorrow” calling. So we all know a calling finds you, why do so many of us keep seeking it?

Read 1 Samuel 3.

Young Samuel was just in his place says verse 9 which happened to be in a place that honored God (verse 3) and he was just going about fulfilling his purpose right then in that season of his life. Chapter 3 starts out, The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. The Scripture DOESN’T say, “Samuel was frantic because he felt ill equipped to have been dedicated to the Lord by age 4 and was wondering what God had exactly called him to specifically because by now he was like 12 at least and verse 7 says the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him, and did God even know that Eli really wasn’t the best role model, I mean maybe God had gotten it all wrong and had him dropped off at the wrong place!?!” NO, Scripture says none of that! That would have been me but this is about Samuel.

The Scripture goes on to say God calls to Samuel 4 times during this particular night. Now before we all think, gosh if He would only be so loud and clear with me lets take a deeper look. Samuel did not know it was God calling him, he actually thought it was Eli. 3 of the 4 times God called to Samuel he ran to Eli saying “Here I am.” Could God’s call on your life for such a time as this come through something so familiar we almost miss it?! Maybe a friend, a family member, a song, a sermon, a familiar passage in Scripture, a need going unmet by others…. Do we live with a heightened awareness that God is always on the move and looking for hearts fully devoted to Him in order to strengthen and equip them for His service and glory every day everywhere?!  Or do we brush off what might be the call of God on your life because it seems so mundane and common place? (Note: Nothing should be considered mundane and common place when handed to you by the Mighty hand of God.)

I find it encouraging that God called Samuel repeatedly, even past the three strikes your out! It wasn’t until the fourth call that Samuel says. “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” (verse 9). I’m so glad God calls back aren’t you?!! He is not hiding from any of us but says seek and you will find! (Matt. 7:7) 1 Samuel 3:21 says the Lord, revealed himself to Samuel through His Word and I believe He is still doing that today. We can live on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4) and if we will just humble ourselves and ask He does give His Spirit without limit! (John 4:34) He does have a calling for your life, in fact He might have many callings!

Mark 4:26-29 talks about a farmer that just does his thing right were he is day and night and though he has no idea how, God produces something wonderful with his life’s work! John 4:34-38 also talks about farming… am I one that sits around waiting for four more months until I feel the conditions are right and I feel ready and I feel equipped or do I jump right in, right where I’m at because Jesus says EVEN NOW, EVEN NOW the harvest is happening! I don’t want to miss being apart of what God is doing because I’m too busy waiting to FEEL ready!

I’ll end with this, in Luke 24:37 it says, the disciples were startled and frightened… I can relate can’t you… thinking, if I volunteer, if I step up, people are going to think I’m totally unqualified and maybe because I am, but if there is a need to be met and God is on the move in this place and I’m right there in my place like Samuel was maybe I need to listen to Jesus’ words to his disciples that day recorded in verse 38. “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!” He is bigger than my short comings, bigger than my past mistakes because He has overcome! His scars trump mine, praise His holy name! So yes Lord Jesus like Samuel I say, Here I am, speak for Your servant is listening, I want to answer Your call to fulfill Your purpose right now in this season of life with whatever You have put in front of me in this place.

Jesus, please give me eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart willing to follow in obedient joy with ever increasing trust and faith in You.

 

TRUST

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We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Does the above picture seem to hit home for any parent anywhere in any parenting stage or is it just me?! Maybe I’m delirious from lack of sleep (I have six kids) but I thought this was hilarious when my sister sent this picture to me early this morning! However if you bring parenting back to His Word His promise is not lack of sleep its… He is able to guard what we entrust to Him (2 Tim. 1:12) and He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart and gently leads those that have young (Isaiah 40:11)! You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3 It’s that simple. It’s that hard.

Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 states, We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure… but this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. Further in chapter 4 he states, do not lose heart, by God’s mercy you have a ministry and the mighty treasure of Jesus LIVING inside. It’s not about our own strength or lack there of, its all Him and His! Praise Jesus! Even when you may feel like a dead piece of clay do not loose heart as these momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all!!!

Sometimes the only way another will find Him though they are not even seeking Him is through witnessing His life in you when everything around you feels anything but life giving! Paul says in Philippians 2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. That’s a mind held steadfast in the promises of Jesus! So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor. 4:18 Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. Rev. 2:10 One day we will look back and think, and we thought THAT was living!?! Rather, it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Cor. 2:9

Like Moses asked God to show Him His glory in Exodus and God agreed however no one can see all His glory and goodness and live so God held Moses in the cleft of a rock under the protection of His mighty hand. Under His mighty protective hand I’m sure all Moses knew was darkness. Could the darkness we experience surrounding our situation and circumstances be caused by His mighty protective hand holding us in the cleft of a rock as He works out His goodness and glory?! Maybe if I allow my mind to rest steadfast in His promises until….. he has passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen. Exodus 33:22-23 Could it be like the underside of a tapestry? He is working out all His goodness and glorious plan in our life and all we may see and feel is painful tangles sometimes but if we stand firm and trust, held fast in and under His mighty hand like Moses did in the cleft of the rock, one day we will be able to look up and see the light of His glorious plan.

Maybe like Eve in the garden of Eden, I would do best to stop fixating on the tree of knowledge and start focusing on the tree of life.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9  

“To us who cry, “It’s not going to work,” the Lord lovingly says, “Where is your faith? Haven’t I promised you that everything is working together for good to those who love Me (Romans 8:28)? Haven’t I promised you that I will bring you to a glorious end (Jeremiah 29:11)? Haven’t I promised you that I will complete that which I’ve begun in you (Philippians 1:6)? Haven’t I promised you that I will restore you the years the locusts has eaten (Joel 2:25)? Haven’t I promised you that no weapon formed against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17)? Haven’t I promised to supply all your need (Philippians 4:19), that if you seek Me first, everything will be added unto you (Matthew 6:33)?” -Jon Courson

If I want His promises I have to trust His processes.

Jesus today I pray for ever increasing faith and trust as…

“I present my body to God as a living and holy sacrifice and the members of my body as instruments of righteousness. I choose to renew my mind by the living Word of God in order that I may prove what the will of God is: good, acceptable and perfect.

I understand that apart from Christ I can do NOTHING, so declare my dependence on Him. I choose to pursue Him, abide in Him, mature in Him, seek the fullness of fullness of Him in order to bear much fruit to the glory of God the Father.

I choose to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. I put no confidence in the flesh but rather to put on the full armor of God to stand against the devil. I will seek His face, His Word, His commands, His ways and His purpose in my life ALWAYS.

I renounce my selfish goals, any and all idols that I have put before You and to worship You daily in spirit and in truth. I ask that You guard my mind in heart in Christ Jesus, to take captive every thought, to hate what is evil and cling to what is good. I choose to love you God with all my heart, soul and mind and to love my neighbor as myself.” -Mark Sutherland

Independent Read: Romans 12:1, 2, 9, John 15:5, 4:24, Eph. 3:19, 6:10, 11, Phil. 3:3, 4:7, Ps. 27:8, 2 Cor. 10:5, Luke 10:27, Zech. 4:6, Phil. 4:8

Do you want to get well?

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Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

Ever feel like from out of the blue a tidal wave of uncertainty has come crashing down on your world and you seem to be doing the doggy paddle desperately looking for which way is up as you try to make sense of the black swirling cold mass around you?! Then like only God your Creator can do, as only He knows the depths of your heart like only The Creator could, you receive a life tube from somewhere that jacks not the wave away but somehow your focus up top, on Jesus. That tube for me recently was Zechariah 4:6.

Not a truth I had forgotten, actually a timeless treasured truth but in a cold dark swirling mass of uncertainty never underestimate the power of shared Word as prompted by our God. You may never know it was the life line someone needed but God will. Do you know the very name Zechariah means God remembers! God knows and cares and remembers your details and as per Scripture I’ve found God acts on what He remembers.

In John 5:6 Jesus asks a man, Do you want to get well? At first the man begins by avoiding the question and offering excuses. So often don’t we find ourselves in that same boat?! Jesus is asking all of us, Do you want to get well? Do you want to trust Me? Do you want to put your faith in Me? He isn’t asking for all the reasons why we have not so far, just if we want to in-spite of…. Jesus died while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8) maybe while we are still stuck in all our uncertainties we could surrender our will and wanting to have it all figured out with all the answers now and simply say, yes Jesus I want to trust, I want to have faith. I believe; help my unbelief! Mark 9:24

Its only God who calls a heart, only God who turns a heart, only God who gives more faith and ever increasing trust but it takes a surrendered willing heart to receive it! When we are surrounded by all the unknowns and the swirling fears of all that does not make sense, and all does not look good we can choose to surrender and honestly say, God pursue and persuade my heart into ever increasing faith and trust in You, that You are good, and that Your plan really is more beautiful than I could ever even want. Pursue me until my heart is completely held breathlessly enraptured in the fullness of joy in who You are. The mystery is part of the romance, what keeps our hearts ever seeking Him. Mastery takes the mystery right out and as humans I think in a way we crave it. Who wants a God that we can completely figure out?! I need to know He is smarter than I to handle whats bigger than I!

Trying to work up enough faith to hold on, on our own will never work, that’s why He says in Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. From that verse I don’t get that it’s dependent on my strength at all and neither from Zechariah 4:6 which outright states in will not be in my strength but by His Spirit!

In Exodus 2:14-15 we read that Moses was afraid and fled Egypt to live in Midian. In Hebrews 11:27 it states, By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the kings anger; he persevered because he saw him who was invisible. So could faith actually not be the absence of fear but the presence of trust?!

Maybe you have been working so hard at trying to increase your faith and trust on your own and fear seems to be the only thing increasing as of late. Zechariah 4:6 reminds us dear child of God that it will not be in our own strength or might but by the Spirit of the Almighty God! So when He asks, beloved do you want to get well, do you want more faith, more trust? All we have to say is, yes Lord; then be still and know that He is faithful God and rest, upheld in the swirling tidal wave of uncertainty in His very certain righteously victorious mighty right hand.

Independent Read: Isaiah 54:10, Matthew 11:6, Isaiah 55:8-9, 1 Corinthians 13:12, Isaiah 55:11, Psalm 46:10, Matthew 11:28, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, Psalm 121, Romans 8:31, Ephesians 6:11

Meno-Meno-Peas

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The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will not longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing .” Zephaniah 3:17

Yesterday our youngest exclaimed, mom guess what?!! I just sang the A-B-C’s but not the meno-meno-peas part!! I thought for a moment… OOOH, yeah buddy let me hear it! He precedes to proudly sing me the A-B-C song and instead of the typical meno-meno-peas part that so many 3, 4, and 5 year old’s insert where L-M-N-O-P should be, our youngest proudly enunciated each individual letter correctly! Of course I praised him for his singing ability that far out weighs mine but the whole incident got me thinking…

I mean I know His word says in this world we will have trouble but what individual thought we had to bring it on at 3, 4, and 5 by speeding up the A-B-C’s at a time in their language development when enunciating correctly is a skill in itself!!!

So there is a version of the A-B-C’s that slows down this section in particular so that kids can clearly hear the letter names L-M-N-O-P. So instead of constantly judging and pointing out failure we just sing the slower version and you can see kids gears just spinning in their eyes as they take in a different message than meno-meno-peas. Until one day they exclaim, hey mom I just sang the A-B-C’s without the meno-meno-peas part!

I thought Jesus, please make me someone that sings the harmony to Your melody of love in such a way that people don’t feel constantly judged and condemned but that I would love like You and leave the judging all up to You. The other A-B-C ending I prefer is “…now I know my A-B-Cs, and I know that God loves me!” I want to live in a way Jesus that my song is an example that when others follow they are following and looking to You Jesus. To know Your great love that came with such a price that You are to be honored and reverently feared. To know this great love of yours that surpasses understanding changes a heart with a desire to stop singing the old meno-meno-peas but to sing and live in Your Truth.

So someday, maybe someday when I’m up in heaven and another enters in, I just might overhear them say, Jesus guess what?!! I can sing Your song without the meno-meno-peas part because I heard Your song of love and Truth from that girl right over there! And the Savior would look over and say, well done good and faithful servant, well done.

Independent Read: Ephesians 3:19, 1 John 4:18, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Romans 12:9-21, John 16:33, John 3:16, Matthew 25:23

 

Fearing The Fire

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…because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. 2 Timothy 1:12

Some times “fires” can just not be avoided, like this morning… my six kids gathered in the kitchen for breakfast and everyone thought this might be a good day to spill their cereal in multiple locations and then someone thought they would swallow wrong and gag up their entire bowl! Then there are the “fires” that come in the form of a diagnosis that stops your heart and grips your lungs. As much as I might like the illusion of control, in the end it is just that, an illusion.

Read Exodus 3:1-4. Moses first notices the bush on fire and doesn’t try and run in fear to the nearest well in order to gather enough water to put it out, he doesn’t walk the other way ignoring what he saw, with an outta sight outta mind mentality. No, he thinks, “I will go over and see..”! (Personally I would have been running for the well!) Moses however hears God call his name from with in the fire not BEFORE but AFTER Moses starts toward it!! Then later in verses 13-14 God tells Moses His name is I AM! Good thing too because Moses had no idea what was ahead and what to expect so he would not have even have known to ask, “God are you good at parting waters because I might need that around the Red Sea?” No! Moses had to trust I AM. That God would be all the He is in all that Moses would need!

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

Do I perceive Him, trust I AM like that in my own life? Or am I too busy fearing the fire that I’m missing who He wants to be to me IN the fire!

When the “fires” of life get too smoky my dad always said, “Just go back to what you know.”

Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn – Isaiah 51:1

You are from the One who is able. You are a child of I AM.

We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 1 Thess. 4:14

No matter what I face I must stop looking for my destination through the smoke. I must look at my “fire” with the back drop of the cross and the Resurrection and realize He is my destination. He is good. He died to make sure I had eternal life with Him in His kingdom, my life does not end here in any fire because He rose again and conquered death!!

Maybe your “fire” is heated 7x hotter like with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego yet God was still with them in it and He is faithful not to leave us. The promise He made was that He would never forsake us, it wasn’t that He would always fix us/it this side of heaven. When those boys came out they didn’t even smell like smoke! I guarantee there is no smoke smell in heaven, praise God! He has a plan and ways much higher than mine and I can guarantee it’s more beautiful then I could ever have wanted.

But standing firm can feel exhausting in a “fire” and maybe we have been just trying and trying to hold onto faith, and maybe you want to say you just can’t anymore. I think that’s when we need to realize it was never us to begin with. He calls the heart to faith it’s a gift. When I feel my strength to hold on waning I can pray that He do what only He can do and pursue and persuade my heart to greater trust and greater faith in Him who is faithful, then to pray for eyes, ears and a heart willing to perceive and surrender to His will and way that is always best.

Jesus this day enrapture my heart until I’m breathless with joy, filled with all the fullness of I AM with ever increasing trust and faith in the One who is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him no matter how hot or fierce the fire.

Fear God not the “fire”.

Independent read: Philippians 1:20-21

SONrise

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SONrise over the snow reminds me of His faithful presence in and over all – that He did rise that 3rd day!

So often I want God to lift the fog in life so I can see clearly the way to the destination, and He’s trying to say I AM the destination, I AM the Way.

He comes from outside all time and space and amazingly desires a relationship with us yet so often we only want to concern ourselves with our little moment in time and space when His promise is for so much more!

On the cross He said it’s finished. By His stripes we are healed yet maybe we don’t feel “healed”…it’s a promise already, but not yet.

Jesus thank you for Your sunrise to remind me that You did rise and this is not how it ends. Pursue my heart till it’s completely enraptured in the fullness of Your joy so that even in the fog I will praise Your name.

They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings–and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” Revelation 17:14 “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭94:19‬ “O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭95:1‬

God bless your day!

 

Peeled Paint

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So yesterday one of our six children while deciding what they wanted for lunch absentmindedly picked a piece of paint off the wall. Now smack in the middle of a huge green colored (actually it’s oregano spice colored) main wall of our home is a glaringly white polka dot!

I looked at that child of mine and thought what in the world?! Seriously what made you think that was even a remotely good idea?! But then it hit me like a soft bag of rocks… how many times a day must God look at me and think the very same thing!!!

So I said to this paint peeling child of mine, (now looking into big remorseful eyes) since everyone’s eyes will be drawn to this white polka dot anyway why don’t we write a special message in it! Well you wouldn’t believe the size of smile that cracked on that kids face! So you can see in the picture what we wrote together U R loved.

And so we went about our day and I totally forgot about it until my older children returned home from school and that child, I think before the others even got in the door exclaimed, “You gotta come see the special message!!” At that moment God rushed on my heart. Beauty from ashes!

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Where the enemy speaks only lies and shame over my failures and mistakes God says remember… I make beauty from ashes.

Sometimes it first takes peeled off paint to make room for His special message of Truth in our hearts . The enemy wants us wallowing in shame over our peeled off paint moments but Jesus came so we could live life abundantly – in Him there is forgiveness – new life – second chances – dear child you are loved!!!

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God bless your day!

“Don’t miss the mundane looking for the miraculous. Every moment is miraculous because it’s handed to us by the Miraculous One.”