Deep Thorns That Take You Deeper Still

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“Mom, I need your help! Everything my hand touches sends pain up my finger! Can you figure out what’s wrong and fix it?!!” At first glance I see nothing, however upon closer observation I see a hairlike sliver in the tip of his finger and with the proper tool (a tweezers, because that’s as surgical as I get before passing out) it was out in no time, pain gone! Yay mom, life is good! But what about the “thorns” your mom can’t remove and stay painfully stuck…

Take a moment and read Psalm 73.

This Psalm is written by Asaph a musician that led the praises of the Jews as the ark entered into Jerusalem. He was good at praise, he was good at worship but here in this Psalm we see him admit he is beginning to slip from wisdom and godliness. Why? Because he is struggling with the ways of the world. Why does good happen to the wicked and bad happen to the good? Verse 7 NLT states, These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! In verse 13 he wonders if he has kept his heart pure for nothing. (14) I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain. Have you been where Asaph is?

What I love and can learn from him is what he does and doesn’t do with his feelings. Verse 15, he doesn’t take them to other people, he doesn’t want others to stumble in their faith over his doubts so he instead goes straight to God. Verse 17, Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood…. (21) Then I realized that my heart was bitter and I was all torn up inside. Isn’t that exactly what the enemy wants to do to you with the thorns that are allowed into your life!? Tear you up inside and ultimately cause you to tear your heart away from God!

What else does God reveal to Asaph as a result of him running into His mighty hand? He reveals His mighty heart that is FOR him. Verse 23 Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My heart may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. FOREVER! He is reminded that for those who believe, this world is as bad as it will ever get; and for those who don’t, this world is as good as it will ever get. (John 3:16)

Much of Scripture shows us He wants to meet with us, fellowship with us, walk in a love relationship with us daily. Joshua 24:15 …choose today whom you will serve… choose today, everyday, some days every moment I need to re-fix my eyes on the author and perfecter of my faith (Heb. 12:2) because some “thorns” feel unbearable yet I’m reminded of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He sweat blood because the pain and pressure of the “thorn” was so great. Yet He chose to bear it and submit to His Father’s will in order to win me a way into His eternal kingdom so that my “thorns” would not be eternal. (Luke 22:39-45) They instead could be used for His glory and praise and the saving of many more lives into His kingdom! (Gen. 50:20)

Jesus, the “thorns” in this life that You allow for a season or maybe even a lifetime that the enemy wants to use to tear me up inside and ultimately use to tear my heart from Yours, Jesus I pray You use to strengthen my faith! That I would be able to raise that shield of faith and pray, “not my will but Your’s be done Father”, and at that, every fiery dart from hell aimed at me would be extinguished! If it’s not Your will to take these “thorns” away in this life I will praise You that they will not go with me to the next! Allow them then today to make me instead run deeper into You like Asaph into Your sanctuary. Like the thorn in my sons hand made him realize he needed someone bigger… Lord, use these “thorns” to make me more aware of my constant need of You, I AM, who is bigger, to see You in ways I never would have otherwise even been looking; allow them to show me Your sufficiency, Your strength brought to perfection in my weakness. May those deep “thorns” take my heart deeper, deeper still into You Father. Amen.

Independent Read: Eph. 3:14-21, John 14:1-3, Acts 7:5 (nothing appeared to make sense yet he trusted), Hebrews 11:10, Eph. 6:16, John 15:5, Romans 8:28

The After Party

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At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize… John 12:16

I really don’t know why it’s so often only AFTER the moment that things become clear to me; that I think of just the right thing to say, the perfect thing to do… Maybe that’s why the above verse intrigues me so much because even Jesus’ disciples it says didn’t realize that all these things had been written about him until AFTER. After He had been glorified.

John 12:41 tells us Isaiah spoke about Jesus because he had seen Jesus’ glory. According to my study, Isaiah spoke primarily of the glory of God and John spoke of the glory of Jesus making no distinction of the two as they are one. The thought of glory is complex combining opposites to one end. Hard hearts and healing, death and Resurrection, rejection and triumph, humiliation and glory. If this is at all confusing join me in praying Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

Now look at John 12:19…Look how the whole world has gone after him! The whole world yet who stands with Jesus when He is on trial, falsely accused and headed toward the cross?! Where is the whole world then? Where is the leper and the blind man that He healed or the 5,000 that He fed with 5 loaves and 2 fish? Where were the 12 of His closest companions?

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. We esteemed Him not…. It wasn’t until after He, took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, and we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. It wasn’t until after He had been, pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities that we realized He had taken OUR punishment upon Himself thus bringing US peace. It wasn’t until after He was wounded that we realized we have been made whole through His breaking. (Is. 53:4)

It was only AFTER the moment. Can you imagine how much harder it made being IN that moment for Him because we didn’t get it, we didn’t realize… it added to His pain and heart ache I’m sure. Just like in our moments that we cannot make sense of and we do not understand and don’t seem fair, the not knowing seems to make it harder. Yet in Matthew 5:4 Jesus Himself states, Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. The One who knows what it’s like to be in a moment that hurts and makes no logical sense says in Ephesians 1:11 In him we were chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. EVERYTHING sweet child.

Now look at Ephesians 1:22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church – ALL things are under His feet nothing is threatening to overtake Him, He rose again and has overcome once and for all He is the victorious one, He is the Alpha AND Omega! He is head over everything for the church and what does Matthew 16:18 say?! ...on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not over come it. In Jesus you are His church and no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me, declares the LORD. Isaiah 54:17

Jesus, it may not be until AFTER Your glory is revealed that I understand all of my confusing moments in life, so please hang on to me, increase my faith and trust in You. I want to make it to the AFTER party, when Your glory IS revealed and I will fully understand, not wanting to change a thing because You’re just that good!

Independent Read: 1 Cor. 13:12, Romans 8:28, Rev. 22:7,13

Warning: Drifting Conditions Ahead

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Recently I gave a speech in which I almost died by way of drowning; standing fully on dry ground no less! Publicly choking on a sip of water can be deadly…and most embarrassing when you almost project the rest of the liquid onto the front lines of the audience of which I failed to previously label with my “splash zone” warning signs. (Live and learn I guess.) However long story short, thankfully God kept my heart beating that day which reminds me of something Chambers wrote once, “You no more need a holiday from spiritual concentration than your heart needs a holiday from beating.”

Colossians 1:23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. DON’T DRIFT! The enemy is out to choke you, to trip you up, to cause you to drift, to often take a slow fading trip away from the One true treasure you’ve been given; because see he can’t take that treasure from you… you have to drift away on your own. (John 10:28)

Remember the secret?! And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. (YES!!) This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. (Alleluia!) Col. 1:27 Good golly He wants us to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. He wants us to have complete confidence and understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:2,3) And friends He Himself is willing to reside within us!!! Don’t drift from that Truth!!!!

We have been made aware of our treasure in His Word so that no one will deceive you with well crafted arguments. (Col. 2:4) Know Truth because those lies are well crafted especially in stormy seasons when the wind and the rain, snow and ice seem to blur those lines through tears. Col. 2:7-8 shows us our conquering King Jesus knew well about these seasons and so it is stated here, Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will over flow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high sounding nonsense that comes from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

This world holds nothing of lasting value for us in Christ, You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rulers of the world… (Col. 2:20) Why, is right!!?!

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. Col. 3:10 Do not succumb to the choking of the enemy dear one. Just as every heartbeat is precious to the sustaining of our very lives so too is clinging to the treasure which is Jesus, and the secret that He has given Himself in our place so that we could be with Him in His (John 3:16).

Oh dear one He has no favorites (Col. 3:25), He is pursuing you and He longs for you to allow Him to persuade your heart into a deeper faith and trust in His faithful, true and good character! YOU are precious to Him, don’t drift from that kind of love! Today lets choose to live, drowning/fully immersed in the freedom of His eternal life sustaining Truth which is His Word!

Independent Read: 1 John 4:4, Eph. 3:14-21, John 1:1-5

 

Toe to the line…what do you do?

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So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere  so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. Hebrews 10:35-39

Anyone else need those verses as much as me today?! To hear, you are NOT of those who shrink back! Cuz sometimes I sure feel like I am. But that’s not who God sees you or I to be! He found Gideon hiding at the bottom of a wine press, threshing wheat…cuz that’s normal?! That’s brave?! No, but sometimes what you’ve done or are doing really isn’t who you are. God sees the heart and purpose He created you for, and He is willing to meet you all hiding in your wine press threshing wheat no less and remind you of that! Like Gideon He calls us out and says… “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6:12 Through all the lies God breaks through with Truth.

God called Gideon to a mighty warriors job. He’s called you to a might warriors job… He only makes mighty warriors, do you believe that? Gideon needed some convincing too. God is head of heavens armies and He’s called each of us to be apart of it, but when your toes are up to the line, what do you choose?

Gideon gave God the facts about who he was in Judges 6:15, “But Lord,” (Sounds like me too often, “But Lord…” as if He doesn’t already know! Good grief!) Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Verse 16, God’s like are you done belly achen’, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” No specific game plan just the truth that He will be with you and not fail you, requiring nothing but trust in I AM Who is, and will be, all that I am not.

Fast forward… Gideon gets an army of 32,000 and God says, son, you’re going to think you won this in your own strength if I send you in with that many, and I’m trying to teach you something here that will bring you closer to My heart, so all the fearful ones were allowed to leave. (Gideon is probably thinking, can I go too then?!) So that left Gideon with a brave 10,000! But God still thought that was too many so He widdles it down to a measly 300!!

So here is Gideon, ill-equipped in his own strength and armed with 300 men up against what now?! Judges 7:11-12 states, So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore. 

I think this was a toe to the line moment. Gideon looks over the enemy camp knowing what he has behind him (300 men) and before him is an army thick as locusts! Their camels alone are like the sand on the seashore!!! Gideon, had I been him, would have said, Good golly Lord now I KNOW even YOU must be wishing You left me in the wine press!! I’m much better and more effective providing for Your people threshing wheat for them there!! To which God would respond, sweet child, it’s not about how much confidence you have… its about from Whom you get your confidence, and in Whom you place it.

If we place our confidence in what we know about our ill-equipped self, we will back down from the line every time. But Jesus has called us to more through victory in Him! You are NOT from those who shrink back. You are from, and with, I AM possible – trust Me.

So the next time you feel He’s called you up to the line, remember Gideon. As ill-equipped as he was he stepped forward that day in a God so much bigger than His unlikely and quite seemingly impossible situation, and over came! Don’t miss out on God’s great purpose and plan for your life because you got distracted and misplaced your confidence. You dear child of Jesus are NOT of those who shrink back!

Independent Read: Jeremiah 17:7, Romans 8:37, 1 John 4:4, Phil. 4:13

A, B, C, D – Jesus loves me.

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Ever wonder what a caterpillar must be thinking

when God calls it to start spinning?!

The little guy is just crawling along one day when God says, “Go for it buddy!”

He’s like, “WHAT?!! You got the wrong insect it ain’t me. I’m just a hungry!”

“I got no prior experience to pull from what-so-ever in cocooning!?!!”

“But I’ll help you find Your guy if You’re moving.”

“I bet You were looking for my friend spider who’s much more behooving.”

God says, “Nope,

you’re the one in My scope.”

So feeling quite ill equipped, the caterpillar starts out.

However He quickly finds there’s more to freak about!

“Now that I’ve started there’s no way I can finish!! What’s my part!?”

To which God replies, “Be still My child I’m known for finishing what I start.”

But then… “God now I’m all cramped up!” cries the caterpillar from His cocoon.

“I can’t see, and oh good heavens what’s happening to me!!?!?

“This is painful God! I thought You knew what You were doing

but now I’m booing!”

“I’m out on a limb!!”

Yet Caterpillar submits, steadfastly trusting that God will carry on and not purge.

Until one day the pain has subsided and he feels the urge…

to emerge!

“God, what do you think, am I done?”

“Common out, be free, you can do it dear one.”

So the caterpillar starts to squirm and push without caution.

Caterpillar thinks, Why is God not helping I’m at the point of exhaustion!

He breaks free! Much to his surprise the old has gone and something new has come!!

How exciting, how glorious, how grand, his hard work is done!

“I have wings! Glorious wings! Who would have thought this could be my fate?!!”

“My child not yet, you must wait.”

“WHAT?! All this and You say wait?!”

But the caterpillar again resigns his will, for his God is faithful and He said he would be free!

While caterpillar waits God teaches, “A, B, C and D

For Jesus loves me.

“Now what does A, B, C, D have to do with me? I need an evaluation.

“Well, in Me”, Jesus says, “you are A.ppointed for such a time, and situation.”

“To be who you are.”

“Not a spider.”

“But a caterpillar.”

“To B.ear much fruit to the praise, glory and display of My splendor!!”

But silly, not the kind you put in a blender.

“For who taught the caterpillar to spin a cocoon with out many tries?”

Why the Holy Spirit within those whom He abides!!

For it’s under God’s direction..

that a caterpillar performs perfectly in all its unqualified imperfection.

Jesus says, “You were C.hosen to do just that before the creation of the world!”

Now the caterpillar is still just waiting on God all curled.

Until God says, “NOW little one, spread those wings and FLY! Fly for me D.aily!!!

“So that everywhere you go

people will know.”

“Know that I A.ppooint to B.ear fruit cuz you’re C.hosen – D.aily

to be My treasured possession for the display of my splendor, mainly!”

“Well done,

My little one.”

“You trusted when you didn’t feel equipped,

and you feared you had tripped.”

“You trusted when it hurt and it seemed all wrong.

You waited even when if felt way too long.”

“You trusted in A, B, C and D.

You said, “Because Jesus loves me.”

“Well done!!”

“I needed you to struggle out of the cocoon on your own or you would have died

it was the struggle that made you strong enough to survive.”

“I needed you to wait because I needed to dry your wings, to soak them in my Light.”

“So that when you took flight,

you would not fall but soar

soar to heights you could never have dream or even imagined before.”

“To lure new hearts, for Me to ignite!!”

“I know how you felt little one, I too faced a similar plight.”

“The cross which didn’t make sense, I’d done nothing wrong.”

“But my Father sent His Spirit and I was strong.”

“So I took the cross and it so hurt

that I thought I would burst.”

“I wanted to get off but I trusted and submitted My will to His.”

“I entered the tomb

much like your cocoon.”

“But on day three I emerged alive to give life anew to all who

would choose to trust in Me like you.”

“So well done little one, well done

for on your faith many more will gain wind to soar

to new life because of the pain I boar.”

“Well done, little one, well done

Now welcome home My treasured one.”

Independent read: Ecc. 3:11, John 5:17, 2 Chron. 16:9, 2 Tim. 3:17, Hebrews 13:21, Phil. 1:6, 2 Cor. 5:17, John 3:16, Hebrews 12:2, Eph. 2:10, John 15:16, John 15:5, Isaiah 30:18, Is. 40:31, Matt. 11:6, Matt. 25:23, Mark 12:27, Matthew 28:6, Ps. 46:10, Prov. 3:5-6

Cuz good golly we got anxiety!!

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Most of the time I get… “Do I have-ta eat that?!” But yesterday my youngest looked at a large bag of mustard seeds and asked, “Mama, so should I just eat it?” Like he would be totally on board if I said yes! Can I not win?! Slave over a home cooked meal just to be denied yet a bag of mustard seeds they would try?! Go figure – I guess that’s life, you kinda have to walk around with a “mystery fanny pack”! The things that just baffle you to no end you just stuff in there till the other side of heaven when all things will be made known. (Luke 12:2)

This mustard seed conversation started as I was completing a craft with them and telling my son about the passage in Scripture from Matthew 17:20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” So that’s when my son thought maybe eating the seeds might be the trick to gaining the faith to move mountains.

His precious child like faith made me think… he is right if I devour His Word my faith will grow! I thought of Ezekiel 3:3-4 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. He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them. It will grow so much that it can not be contained but become contagious!! We’ll all be movin’ mountains to His glory!

It’s important to know the Truth. Most of us love Jesus too much to accept a lie from the enemy straight out… but what happens when the enemy speaks truth… truth about our life or situation? For example I see Jesus being tempted in the desert in Matthew 4. The devil quotes Scripture (Psalm 91:11-12) to Jesus when he says throw yourself down, angels will rescue you… But Jesus is the Word (John 1:1) so He knows when truth has been spoken over His situation and when the revelation of Truth has been given by God Himself. So Jesus replies, with Scripture (Deut. 6:16), do not put the Lord your God to the test.

The enemy disguises himself as light (2 Cor. 11:14) so we need to not just know the Word, or be able to quote the Word but we need to be able to have so devoured it that it has become part of us and we DO the Word. So when the enemy speaks truth about our situation like… you did it. We can respond with, yes…but I’m not “it”! Does this free anyone else from some un-needed anxiety!?! Well, who needs ANY anxiety right!

We are all going through something, in something, or headed toward something. You might think, well that’s real positive. But really, I am positive.. we are all going through something, in something or headed toward something and we need mountain moving faith in His Word of Truth to do it well.

Paul lists CRAZY mind blowing hardships he has been through in 2 Corinthians 11 and toward the end of his list in verse 28 he states, Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. He is like I’ve practically died 900 times and besides all that good golly I got anxiety!!! Can anyone relate!?! But this same guy also knows Truth and it sustains Him through it all. It can sustain us too, if we will devour His Word and let Jesus just enrapture our hearts until we are held breathless with the fullness of joy that can be found only in Him despite anything swirling around us.

Praise the mighty victorious name of Jesus we have been set free, and that’s the Truth. Now devour it and move mountains dear one!!!

Independent read (Truths Paul knew): Philippians 3:8, 20-21, 4:4-8, 2 Corinthians 4:7-8

 

What do I pick up?

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What do I pick up? There is the dishwasher that needs emptying, the laundry that needs folding, the floor that needs sweeping since apparently my dog has made it his life’s mission to become hairless! Then there is the dust… but as long as no one touches it every item in my home can just be assumed a nice cozy shade of grey! So obviously I opted for the lap top.

We are all surrounded by choices as to what we will pick up and carry with us each day. For me what should be an easy choice often isn’t. Every day, every moment I can choose to pick up faith… or fear. Both beg to be picked up, both know my name and shout it loudly. Do you know this call too?

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:17

If God is not giving me fear… why, good golly, am I picking it up!!!!?????

Ephesians 1:19-20 …and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of the mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead…

See that “for us”… what’s for us? GREAT POWER and incomparably so! And as if He knew we would still doubt He explains just how great of a power He give us!! God says, dear one its the raising of the dead kind of power!

Why do I think He used that explanation? Not only does it exemplify intense power of the mightiest kind but it also informs me that anything I thought dead, too far gone, impossible, anything I failed rather than nailed He is able to redeem, restore, make new, and breath new life into a second chance.

If I picked up fear He says it’s not the end of the world My child, just put it down and pick up faith. It’s that easy and it’s that hard. But the choice is ours.  Nothings being forced into our hands but both fear and faith are knocking at the door of our hearts every moment of every day. What will we let in.

Ephesians 1:22 states everything is under His feet. There is nothing I face that my God is not in complete control over. The enemy wants me to take my eyes off Jesus because then I forget the tomb is empty. I forget He rolled away the stone. Than I forget that same power is for me if I’ll have it. Then the enemy can start to threaten to roll up over me all the stones in my life that My God has already placed beneath His feet!!

How dare the enemy do such a thing! But in Jesus, the enemy has no power over me that I don’t give him so lets decided together that right this moment we will LOCK our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith and refuse to look away so as not to allow the enemy to steal any more ground to that which Jesus has called us to.

Today, let’s pick up well. As for me it’s time to put down the lap top and make ground on clearing what hinders because in good faith I’m pretty sure my furniture has not always looked this shade of grey!!

Independent Read: Hebrews 12:2