Deployed and On Assignment

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I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5

A dear friend shared in an email the other day her elation at being given another assignment from God. I was so intrigued with her view on life, that I find myself praying to also take such a perspective. God is always moving (John 5:17) and I want to be ready for active duty along side Him at any moment.

1 Corinthians 2:9 states, No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. – This world feels like our reality but in fact the Kingdom of heaven is our home and true reality. Like Abraham we can confidently look forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. (Heb. 11:10) A place with no more death, sorrow, crying or pain! (Rev. 21:4)

Revelation 21:7 states that, All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God and they will be my children. Verse 8 starts, But cowards…. I see here in this verse 8 that cowards are grouped with unbelievers, corrupt, murderers, immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers and all liars…. these will not make heavens entrance. – Cowards are those who abandon Jesus at the threats of the enemy, they fear persecution so badly that they choose the temporary relief this world gives over eternal life.

In the physical world our repercussions are more immediate when we make wrong choices… you choose to step out in front of a moving car and you get hit… in the spiritual realm it can be more delayed… sinful behavior may bring you temporary pleasure but in the end an unrepentant, unbelieving heart will lead to hell. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us God wants none to perish. However the choice is ours to make.

In this world all who believe in Jesus are on assignment deployed to bring the Good News of His Kingdom, of the Gospel of Jesus to a world that is passing away unless they too accept Him. Acts 13:22 tells us David was a man after God’s own heart. David made plenty of mistakes of which I am glad the Bible records giving hope for people like me!

No matter what happened to David he refused to turn away from God. David allowed each situation and circumstance to motivate him to seek deeper into God’s heart. Proving David had faith in Who God was more than in what God did.

Do we know God well enough that when God allows things to happen in our lives that we do not understand, that anger us or give us great fear or sorrow, we choose not to turn away but to go deeper into His heart?! Can we sift all our feelings about what we do not understand through the character of God depicted in the Scriptures and find strength and renewed hope… because it’s there.

Psalm 144:1-2 lists David naming God his rock, his loving ally, his fortress, his tower of safety, his rescuer, his shield… to need someone to be those kind of things you have not had a cake walk this side of heaven but to know someone as those things you have to be running to them not away.

This world seems like reality but in fact it is but a single breath in the lungs of eternity.

When David lost his son he said I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me. (2 Sam. 12:23) David knew of a reality greater than his right now. When he lost his buddy Uzzah David was angry and afraid but before the end of chapter 6 in 2 Samuel he is found worshiping God with all his might!

Jesus prayed in John 17:20-26 for you and I, for all believers. He knew first hand being deployed and on assignment in this world would encompass many hardships, He tells us so in John 16:33. Jesus prays in verse 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am and in verse 23 He prays that the world would know Him and His love for us.

Now I’m pretty sure Jesus gets anything He prays for so if we choose to take part in the victory Jesus won on the cross and resurrection through simply believing we will be at the end party Revelation talks of… that one with no tears, sorrow or pain!

But this earthly mission is not for cowards, not for those who shrink away but for those who choose to persevere and stand firm in the faith in spite of persecution, hardship, and things that just don’t make sense to us. And the best part is that we were never asked to do it alone! Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to reside within us and 1 John 4:4 states stronger is He who is in us than he who is in the world!

We get to choose what fills the void hardships can leave in this life – more faith or frustration and bitterness. But our mission, our deployment, our assignment holds too great an importance in the Fathers heart for us to give up!

We must persevere! There is a world out there literally dying to know the Truth we have in Jesus and it’s our job to bring it, to live out our faith in a Kingdom not of this world! So let’s not give the enemy the satisfaction of seeing us sidelined, sidetracked or worse out of the game entirely. Let’s let our mighty victorious God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Jesus to use every mistake, failure or hardship for His good and glory as He promises He can. (Romans 8:28, Gen. 50:20)

If you are breathing and believing you’ve already been deployed as a soldier in His army. He has an assignment for you unlike anyone else’s. He specifically placed inside you an angle that reflects Him like no one else He’s created. An angle of Him that someone else needs to see today.

Don’t miss today’s opportunity, today’s assignment to step up bravely, toe to the line in ever increasing trust that He Himself will be with you and maybe even be something to you you’ve never known before as you run into Him and not away.

He promises never to leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5) so just keep your eyes fixed on Him the author and perfecter of your faith and He will direct your steps and make your paths straight…. straight through this world into your Kingdom home, and prayerfully there will be a trail of others following in your wake, soldier. You can do all things through Him who gives you strength. Phil. 4:13

Independent Read: Micah 7:8, 2 Cor. 2:14, Gal. 6:9, Prov. 3:5-6

Faith It Till You Feel It

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And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Can I ask, what time zone treadmills reside in?!?! Seriously though does anyone else’s treadmill track milliseconds at hour speed?! Please tell me because if your’s does not do this I will put my faith elsewhere… like maybe the rowing machine! At least then I could sit down, right!

Somehow this brings to my mind Acts 12. Faith is something you can’t fake especially when you don’t feel it, it’s something you take up inspite of your feelings. Kinda like I do on a treadmill; I may not feel like getting on it but I take faith in that it will provide strength to my heart if I persevere.

Reading through Acts 12 will help make the following make better sense. 🙂

We read James has just been killed by Herod and Peter is now imprisoned! Now can you imagine the state of peoples emotions! I mean Jesus has ascended to heaven by now and Peter, James and John… they are like three main disciples we often hear about! So loosing one of the top leaders like James might cause anyone’s faith foundation to quake just a bit (I’m surmising), especially now that Herod has taken Peter prisoner too! Can you imagine the fear and how many people probably wanted to pray, Jesus come back this isn’t working!!

Acts 12:4 states, Herod intended… but we know from Genesis 50:20 what the enemy intends for harm God can use for good! Job 42:2 also states that no purpose of God can be thwarted no matter what the enemy intends!

We see in Acts 12:5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.  I see the church “faithing it”. They were praying for Peter even though they were probably just barely finishing up their prayers about James that hadn’t seemed to have been answered in the way they had all hoped! That first mountain hadn’t moved like they had probably prayed but I think… sometimes when God doesn’t move the mountain it’s because He wants to move YOU. He wants to move you deeper into His heart and that might mean He moves you and not the mountain.

In Acts 12:6 what do we see Peter doing the night before Herod is going to carry out his plan with him?! SLEEPING!!!!! Now that is a man that has been through the storm with Jesus before and knows that God can do more while he sleeps then if he were awake exhausting the last bit of strength he has for the next day worrying and stressing (See Matthew 8:23-27 for more on that)!

Not only is Peter sleeping but he is sleeping BETWEEN two guards! When we’re between two difficult situations or between one crazy appointment and the next are we “faithing it” like Peter and just abiding in I AM? Trusting He will provide Himself for us as He promises to never leave us, forsake or fail us. Trusting Him also means being willing to take His perspective and let Him do it His way. (1 Peter 4:19, Heb. 13:5)

Do we have faith as a child to say, My God is my Father who loves me and I will never remember something He will have forgotten so why should I worry?!

Acts 12:8 we see the angel tell Peter to get dressed and Peter does so without knowing where he is going or if he is going! I have found myself to be one that stresses without the big picture but I only have to go as far as Google maps to understand that would probably not be the best thing for me.

Just the other day I was trying to make it to one of my children’s sporting events but I was having such trouble with the internet’s mapping system!! When it comes to electronic mapping I’m better using the one step at a time mode. If I clip the list of steps I’m likely to find myself across the world in a foreign land wondering why the rest of the team is SO late!!!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Prov. 3:5-6 How often is God going to have to remind me, “Girl, one step at at time!”

Acts 12:9 states that Peter followed the angel out of prison. God is the one that knows the way out of our “prisons” if we will just trustingly surrender to Him as our Lord and Master (John 8:36).

I read Acts 12:10 and thought, golly that walk must have looked pretty daunting! I mean not one, but TWO guards, and at the end was an iron gate!! Yet Peter chose to follow anyway. The cross looked daunting too, but Jesus went anyway, following His Fathers will (Luke 22:42).

Wouldn’t you know that iron gate at the end of the walk opened on it’s own for Peter! Peter would have missed that miracle if he had refused to walk because he felt to much fear, instead he trusted God would provide His presence and Peter faithed it! Courage is not the absence of fear but the presence of trust in the One who is Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11).

Lets not miss that in verse 10 it also says that the angel walked the length of one street with Peter and then suddenly left. What?!?! Don’t go!!! But verse 11 starts out with, it was then that Peter came to his senses and that without a doubt he knew it was the Lord. Maybe when we feel all alone its just an opportunity to come to our senses and realize without a doubt that our strength is found in no one else but God Himself, He is the great I AM (Neh. 8:10)!

Peter knew were to run and where to go knocking… he found people from the church praying for him (Matthew 7:7) Now in Acts 12:15 Rhoda is told she is out of her mind because she is the one to bring the news of Peters arrival to the group.

Sometime being told you are out of your mind might just be the best compliment right! Sometime we have to get out of our box like thinking! Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 

Notice when Rhoda told the group Peter was at the door they didn’t believe it – they said it must be his angel (15). Even though they were praying for Peter they were more likely to believe his angel was at their door than he himself! Verse 16 states they were astonished to find it really was Peter!

Every time I pray I need to pray with the faith that He can! Even if the mountain in the past didn’t move like I expected, even if my feelings don’t feel it, and my mind can’t understand it, I need to faith it. Take faith that He is good, He is faithful, He is trustworthy, He has the perfect plan that will not be thwarted and that He will certainly finish what He has started with my life and yours.

Acts 12:17 shows us Peter comes out of his prison and immediately points others eyes to God, to the activity and faithfulness of His mighty hand.

By the end of this chapter in Acts we see that what Herod had intended for another ended up being his own end. Herod dies and the last sentence is verse 24 states, But the word of God continued to spread and flourish. 

God provides and preserves for His purpose so even when we don’t feel it, we can choose to faith it… in great confidence. Let us hold unswerving tot he hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

Faith is a gift, let’s use it. (Eph. 2:8)

Independent Read: Jeremiah 17:7

 

 

 

 

Jesus Is Truth

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Yesterday my mom sends me a text (on my way out to the sidelines of multiple baseball playoff games for my multiple sons) and within it mentioning her amazement at the number of passages in Scripture in which Jesus says, “I tell you the truth…”.

I was intrigued, so just in the nick of time I was able to grab my research materials to do some digging of my own in between at-bats… the following is what I found!!! Maybe you will be as intrigued as I was! 🙂

JESUS IS TRUTH – John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Have you ever noticed how many times it is recorded in Scripture Jesus saying, “I tell you the TRUTH…” recently I researched this and came up with at least 53 times!! I think there was some urgency on His part for us to “get it”, to trust Him, He is Truth and only speaks truth so we can trust Him, trust in Him, believe and be saved! Be saved and live the abundant life He died to give us by listening and following His true wisdom.

Wisdom is more than just knowledge or knowing right and wrong, it’s timing, context and understanding, it’s knowledge applied. 

Wisdom is personified in Proverbs 8 and His wisdom has always existed. Wisdom does not exist outside of God, it is an expression of His character and nature – Jesus is the apex of God’s wisdom.  See below Colossians. 1:15-17, 2:3

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see- such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. (2:3) In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 

Jesus did not just come and tell us the good way to live and say now do it – He came and told us, then became the way in which we could obtain this life!! Nothing and no one compares to Him!! He took our sin our shame and our cross, He died in our place THEN rose again that if we would believe in Him we would have eternal life in His Kingdom. Read Revelation 21:3-7 (verse 5 states, “ Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”) 

Psalm 51:6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. James 3:17 (ESV) But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

He IS TRUTH. He IS wisdom TO us, FOR us, and WITH us!! Read Proverbs 8 (NLT)

*How I see Prov. 8 pointing me to Jesus.

Prov. 8:1-5 reminds me of Luke 19:41-44 and Matthew 23:37-39 

Verse 9 reminds me of Matthew 13:16

10-11 reminds me of Matthew 6:19-21

12-13 reminds me of 2 Samuel 15-18 (more on that later)

14-16 reminds me of Col. 1:15-17

17 reminds me of John 17:17. 21-23

21 reminds me of Luke 4:43

22-31 reminds me of John 1:1-18

32-36 remind me of Matt. 24:36-44, 1 Thess. 5:1-3, 2 Peter 3:10, Rev. 3:3 and Luke 23:43, 1 Cor. 15

The urgency within the heart of Jesus for us to know and believe the Truth that He is just takes my breath away in awe and wonder at the depth of His love for all of us! As you read the following verses highlight the word TRUTH and how He uses it (I kinda helped by bolding the type in case you don’t have a highlighter nearby).

May your soul too, be thrilled, be romanced, just caught up and held breathless, enraptured and captivated by the truth of our Sovereign Lord God Jesus Christ our Savior!! 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. 1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

TRUTH verses (NLT unless noted): 

In Matthew

6:2 – When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do – blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 

6:5 – When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogue where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.

10:23 – When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.

11:11 – “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!

13:17 – I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.

18:3 – Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

18:13 – And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away!

19:28 (NIV) – Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

21:21 – Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can ee say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.

25:12 (NIV) – “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

25:40 – “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

25:45 – “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

26:21 – While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”

26:34 – Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter – this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 

In Mark

3:28-29 – “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.”

9:1 – Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!”

10:15 – I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

10:29-30 (NIV) – “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – along with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life. 

11:23 – I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. 

14:18 – As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”

14:30 – Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter-this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

In Luke

12:37 – The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat!

12:44 – I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.

18:17 – I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

21:3 –  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them.

21:32 – I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have taken place.

23:43 (NIV) – Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

In John

3:3 – Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

3:5 (NIV) – Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

3:11 (NIV) – Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 

5:19 – So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.

5:24 – “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

5:25 (NIV) – Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

6:26 – Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs.

6:32 – Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven.

6:47 – “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.

6:53 – So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.

8:34 – Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.

8:51 – I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!

8:58 – Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!

10:1 – “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber!

10:7 – so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 

12:24 – I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives.

13:16 – I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message.

13:20 – I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.

13:21 – Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!” 

16:7 (NIV) – But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

16:23 – At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name.

21:18 – “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.”

Independent Read: John 4:23, Rev. 16:7, John 17:3, 1 John 1:6, John 8:40, 45-46, John 8:13-18, John 10:41-42, Matthew 22:16

One last thing… I said we would get back to what Prov. 8:12-13 reminded me of and so this is it… (To get the best picture first read 2 Samuel 15-18.)

In 2 Samuel when David’s son Absalom goes against his father, David’s adviser Ahithophel also defects to side with Absalom. 2 Samuel 15:31 When someone told David that his adviser Ahithophel was now backing Absalom, David prayed, “O Lord, let Ahithophel give Absalom foolish advice!” – then David tells Hushai the Arkite in verse 33, “If you go with me, you will only be a burden. Return to Jerusalem and tell Absalom, ‘I will now be your adviser, O king, just as I was your father’s adviser in the past.’ Then you can frustrate and counter Ahithophel’s advice. – So David’s friend Hushai does just that.

We see in 2 Samuel 17 Ahithophel giving David some advise, some of his wisdom… paraphrased – let me go down and get David now – This seemed good to Absalom but he inquires of Hushai as well. Paraphrased – Hushai tells Absalom that this time Ahithophel has made a mistake and that David and his men are mighty warriors that they will probably overcome and the attack will strike panic in all Absalom’s men. Then Hushai advises that Absalom himself rather than Ahithophel should lead an attack after mustering an army from all over the land and this plan would most certainly bring about success and fame for Absalom. 

2 Sam. 17:14 states, Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “Hushai’s advice is better than Ahithophel’s.” For the LORD had determined to defeat the  counsel of Ahithophel, which really was the better plan, so that he could bring disaster on Absalom!

As it happens Absalom meets his end in this plan (18:15) and Ahithophel hangs himself (17:23).

Ahithophel gave wise counsel but Absalom did not listen. Hushai rather, gave counsel that spoke to the fear and pride in Absalom so instead of taking wise counsel he went with what made him feel good. – Ahithophel hung himself when he heard his wise counsel had not been followed and isn’t it so, if we choose not to follow wise counsel we are headed toward or choosing for ourselves death instead of life too! 

My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep then within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:20-23

Bottom line same as the top line (He is the Alpha and Omega after all. (Re. 22:13)) JESUS IS TRUTH – John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus You are truth, absolute Truth, in You is found true wisdom and fullness of life that You do not hide from any of us, I desire to listen, obey and trust Your wise counsel, please help me faithfully to do so. Amen.

 

 

Battle Vision

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Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith… Hebrews 12:2

Recently my husband and I were able to take a “date walk”.  It was quite romantic until my left contact popped out and then I went half blind – literally. (I really know how to set the mood.) Or maybe the contact debacle was what made it most romantic after all. My man now took me close into his side and was my left eye all the way home. In sickness and in health and in lost left contacts right! Anyway this got me thinking…

Even those of us lucky enough to be born with perfect vision can suffer vision impairment caused by long term battle situations don’t you think. I mean look at David in the Bible. He was anointed next in line to be king. He had the promise and time after time God proved His presence was with him. However as time went on and his enemies continued to pursue him relentlessly David says in 1 Samuel 27:1 (paraphrased) I guess I better just go hide out with the enemy as Saul (his greatest enemy) is going to get me eventually.

Sarah too in Genesis 16 had the promise of a child but as time went on and no child came she started to wonder maybe she needed to go get her servant Hagar. Gen. 16:2 (paraphrased) Sarai says to her husband Abram, God’s not bringing the promise through me so you should sleep with my servant Hagar.

You know the promise like David, like Sarah but in the battle that rages just a minute, a day, an hour, a year, 20 years too long, fear, frustration and exhaustion set in and you start be tossed in the waves of doubt. You just can’t see a way – your vision is suffering long term battle impairment.

GOOD NEWS! That prescription is not a permanent deficit!!! Unlike me who with out visual aid can not even see the big “E” on the chart – long term battle vision impairment is immediately cured when the right chart is placed in front of you (no visual aids required).

Stop looking for the big “E” and fix your eyes on “I AM”.

When we shift from all that we don’t know and from how big our obstacles are to what we DO know about our God, it is amazing how fast the anchor of our faith drops to secure us in the wind and waves of doubt.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure… Hebrews 6:19 Just as I was able to hang on to my husbands arm, firm and secure all the way back home on that trail I only half saw – God says, child I AM your way, anchor yourself to Me. Though the battle rages on do you see the empty cross?! On the other side of every cross we have to bear is our victorious risen Savior!! …despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:37

Independent Read: 1 Corinthians 13:12, Jeremiah 17:7, Psalm 130:5

 

Three Little Words

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Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. James 1:23-24

At my age looking into the mirror only seems to reveal another wrinkle, another gray hair (of which mine seem to have FORGOTTEN are suppose to come in with ADDED wisdom!!) and quite frankly it’s just not getting any prettier. Immediately forgetting that aging image… although might be a blessing… is not possible; so praise the Lord He looks at the inside, and if that’s filled with Him somehow no matter how old you are there is just a radiant glow about you that is renewed (for free) each moment you spend with Him!

I’m for spending more time with Him so lets back it up to James 1:19 and read through verse 25.

Did you see it said EVERYONE should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry… (note to self: my name cannot be inserted as an exception to that rule!) and why?! Because verse 20 says human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. – So verse 21 seems to wonder why in the world we would not just humbly except the Word planted in us THAT CAN SAVE US! It’s like hello?! Anyone listening yet?! Because then in 22 it says don’t be tricked, you actually have to DO what you hear stated in His life saving Word! Oh now glorious verse 25…

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do. And yes, that said WHOEVER, there is no age limit!

You know who this reminds me of…. JESUS! Of course right! In John 12:49 Jesus tells us He did not speak on His own but only what the Father gave Him to say! How incredible right! Sinless Jesus walking the earth with all of us, and can you imagine all in the flesh He may have wanted to say, but restrained!!!!?! Unfathomable strength, which is also available to us if we will surrender to the filling of His Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11)! Now verse 50 says He knew the Fathers command lead to eternal life.

The mission of Jesus first coming was not to judge people but to show the way to find salvation and eternal life. (Shouldn’t we follow suit. (Romans 12:19, Mark 12:30-31)) Now when He returns there will be judgment and those who excepted Jesus words, excepted the Truth of Him and lived His way will be raised to eternal life (John 3:16). Hallelujah!

Just before we go let’s look at one more snap shot of Jesus (who couldn’t use a little extra radiant glow anyway? You might not be as wrinkly as me but let’s marinate in His Word together just a bit longer, shall we!)

John 11:17-44 depicts the events around Lazarus death. Verse 33 in the NLT states, When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. I think Jesus was angry at death. Death was never a part of His plan  (You don’t have to be a control freak like me to know what it feels like to have your perfect plan messed with!)​ and He was right there in the middle of those He deeply loved sharing in their grief that death had caused and He was angry at it’s destruction!

But what does Jesus do?! Throw rocks and curse up a storm… uh no.

First: He says three little words… verse 43, “Lazarus, come out!” and with that death let go of Laz and he inhaled life again!! Amazing strength under control!

Then: Jesus took the cross in our place conquering the grave resurrecting on the other side so that we could all come out of the chains of sin and death into abundant freedom and eternal life with Him in His Kingdom!!!! (Heb. 12:2) He did the will of The Father.

I guarantee there is no face cream on the planet that is going to give you a youthful glow like that Good News right there! But if you could bottle it up with applicator directions it would just be three little words in response to Jesus… I do believe.

Jesus was quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry – the Scriptures were His guide, prayer was His lifeline, He DID the work the Father gave Him to do (John 17:4) and He is willing to finish the work He started in us (Phil. 1:6) (even if it is one ‘wrinkle’ at a time). Praise Him!

I do believe!

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

Independent Read: 1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, Rev. 21:1-7, 1 Thess. 4:15-18, Ps. 34:5, Romans 10:17, Malachi 3:16-18

 

Well vs. Wellness

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…It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life. John 4:14

I once fell through the ice, not on a well but on a pond behind our home one Wisconsin winter. I was “testing out the ice” (because that is what brilliant people do right?!?!) and thankfully I was just at the edge when I slipped out a bit too far which led to me walking home in soaked winter gear!

By God’s grace, mercy, goodness and unfailing love He saved me once again from myself that day!

But I’m reminded of another incident that occurred around water in John 4. There a woman came to a well to draw water when Jesus begins a conversation with her. She couldn’t believe that He would speak with her considering the social norms at that time but what He told her was even more remarkable!

Jesus tells her about living water and she begins to question Him with all sorts of doubtful thoughts in verses 11-12. But sir, you don’t have… this well is very deep. Where would you get… besides do you think you are greater than… how can you offer…?!?!?

Ever found yourself in that doubting boat; in waters way to deep to be handled on your own?

I’m reminded of John the Baptist. In Matthew 3:13-17 John baptizes Jesus and gets to witness God open the sky, and in an audible voice says, this is my Son whom I love with Him I am well pleased and the Holy Spirit descends on Him like a dove!!!!! YET…

In Matthew 11:1-6 we see John ask his buddies to go ask Jesus if He is REALLY the Messiah?! I wonder if his buddies looked at him funny at first like, really John, the ripped open heavens and the audible voice wasn’t enough?!

However they decided to do as John asked anyway, maybe because they felt bad he was in prison. But isn’t that what our “prisons” will do to our minds!?! Doubt floods it’s way into every nook and cranny!

Jesus responds to the women at the wells questions with a perspective shift just like He did to John’s buddies.

It’s easy to get so consumed and caught up by what we can see and what our current circumstances appear to be isn’t it? Though He IS into our details (like saving us from our “testing out the ice” ideas) He is weaving a tapestry with more than the one thread of our individual life. He sees the bigger picture and want’s us to trust Him with it.

I think He is after our eternal WELLNESS more than giving a temporary fix for the “WELL” we’re focused on. And even though the prison John the Baptist sat in seemed dark and confusing Jesus reminded him that he did know Truth and that we all will be blessed not to turn away because of how He does things (Matt. 11:6).

After all the Bible doesn’t hide the fact that we will experience hard times in this world. Psalm 23 tells us even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we do not have to be afraid.

Even if we got in that valley because of our own version of “testing out the ice” it doesn’t say Jesus is standing there reminding us we wouldn’t be there if we hadn’t done that or believed that lie. He’s not using that rod and staff mentioned in verse 4 to beat some sense into us, it is to comfort!!

And where does that Psalm say we are headed?! To a feast! Where our cup overflows with blessing! Why? Because He is good and is unfailing love! We can trust Him with our “well” and our eternal wellness!!

Praise Jesus and don’t turn away! He’ll take you into His arms even if you had to walk the whole way home soaking wet in winter gear because you had the “brilliant idea” to test out the ice!!

Independent Read: Isaiah 55:8-9, Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 12:2, James 1:6, 1 John 4:8

Golden

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But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. Job 23:10

Many of my runs end under this street sign and there is this ever faithful little swallow perched atop just waiting to cheer me on as I strain to the finish (at least that’s what I like to think).

It also got me thinking of Philippians 3:13, Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead – That word, straining, in the NIV does not paint a picture of ease in my mind. Actually it brings me to the scene in Mark 6:48, Jesus – saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.  Shortly before the dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake –  Jesus is there in the straining moments even if it requires a little walking on water to save us!

Sometimes the forgetting what is behind is a strain as we long to move forward! Since the enemy can’t take our salvation he sure would settle for keeping us living in the shadow of shame and under the rock of regret because that is just the position that will render us ineffective on our journey to the Kingdom isn’t it!

Looking at Luke 5:1-11 I see Jesus ask Peter to go fish for Him yet Peter had tried all night and came up with nothing… Peter had a boat full of empty failure. Yet Jesus still chose that guy, the one with the empty boat, the failed catch, to fish for Him!

The key is Peter’s response in verse 5. I tried, I failed, but because You say so…I’ll try again.

If anyone can redeem a situation or life it is Jesus. Because Peter chose to trust Jesus, everyone around, Peter included, were awestruck, just astonished at what Jesus had done with what appeared to be such colossal failure, with such an impossible situation!

Jesus doesn’t stop there, He goes on to flip Peter’s perspective… He tells Peter now he will fish for people. Peter could have said, but Lord I always fish for people! People eat fish, I fish for the people. But Jesus was saying you will fish for PEOPLE – FOR Me.

God has great purpose for all He has redeemed, don’t let the enemy trick you into staying under that rock of regret or walking in the shadow of shame. Strain forward forgetting what is behind for 1 Peter 3:21 states, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also-not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ – Clear conscience! What a wildly wonderful God we serve!!

One last thing. Did you notice the word under which that little sparrow is perched?! Golden! Zechariah 13:9 I will bring that group through the fire and make them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’ 

Don’t give up in the straining forward – it’s the fire that purifies gold and often it’s in the fiery trials that purify and refine us to be more like Christ.

In Jesus you have GREAT purpose so run in such a way as to get the prize! (1 Cor. 9:24) He is cheering you on! (Romans 8:34)

Independent Read: Psalm 107:20, Jeremiah 15:16, John 8:36