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You’re a Star! You Just Don’t Know It.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15

Jesus called you and me the light of the world.

It only makes sense, really, since He is the “the true light that gives light to every man” (John 1:9) and now He dwells within us. As His body, saved and redeemed by His blood, Jesus asks us to shine His light. And according to Matthew 5, that light should never remain hidden. Instead, it should light up the sky like a city on a hill.

Do you shine, dear one? Are you giving Jesus what He asked for?

I can’t help thinking of the song I used to sing as a little girl in Sunday school. We’d proudly hold up our hands with fingers pointing toward the heavens and proclaim, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”

Only it didn’t shine. I never let it out.

We often make the mistake of trying to act like Jesus. We think we shine His light by simply imitating what He would do. But we don’t have the strength to act like Him all the time, so that inner “self” we try to hide through our good behavior reveals itself more often than we’d like it to. And the watching world looks at our version of Christianity and calls it hypocrisy.

Can we really blame them?

You and I aren’t supposed to act like light, dear one. Jesus intends for us to become light.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus carried the burden of our sin to the cross so that we could become His righteousness. He actually changed our nature. Now He invites us to believe it.

For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. Ephesians 5:8

Beloved, Jesus doesn’t want us trying to act like something we’re not. He wants us to know who we truly are and allow His Spirit to empower us to live it.

Jesus doesn’t want us trying to act like something we’re not. He wants us to know who we truly are and live it. Click To Tweet

Jesus gave us His nature the moment we put our faith in Him and received His Spirit to dwell within us. Now we need to let Him out. We need to yield to the power of His Spirit and let His nature take over.

You see, beloved, Jesus shines through a transformed heart.

Have you offered Him your heart to mold and change, dear one? Have you told Him you’re willing to let go of your bitterness? Have you invited Him to circumcise your heart to love with His selfless love?

It’s time we stopped pretending and let Jesus set us ablaze with His light!

Times are changing. Evil shows itself in increasing measure. Scripture foretells of astonishing things to come—some of them terrible, some wondrous—but all of them remain certain.

Yet in Christ, we have glorious hope!

But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. Daniel 12:1-3

Those who walk in truth drawing others to their light will shine like stars. When will these things be fulfilled? God made this astonishing announcement to the prophet Daniel centuries ago.

“… When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” Daniel 12:7

When the power of the holy people has finally been broken? Why would God break His own people?

Consider the power struggle that rages within you. Each day you must choose whether to bow to your own self-will or submit to the Spirit’s leadership. More often than not, your flesh wins the battle, quenching the Spirit’s power.

Our selfish desires have remained too important to us.

Yet in the last days, the power of the Spirit will rise victorious. Christ’s own will finally overcome and claim the victory Jesus purchased for them through the cross. Like in the days when Christ first birthed the church, believers will choose to abandon self-will, leaving its power broken. His church will rise, yielding to His Spirit in glorious surrender, uniting in the love and unity glimpsed at the birth of the church and restored in time for the return of the King.

Beloved, you and I can hasten His return.

You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. 2 Peter 3:11-12

As we choose to surrender to the Spirit’s work in our lives, allowing Him to sanctify our hearts and renew our minds with His purpose, we move toward the fulfillment of Christ’s kingdom.

Like the Disciples who first answered Jesus’ call and paved the way for us, will you choose to live radically for Jesus, abandoning all else to the rise of His glory? I pray that you will, beloved,

. . . so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe. Philippians 2:15

Then our eyes will finally gaze upon our Lord and King without a veil. Glory rises, dear one. Will you allow Christ to reveal it in you?

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Don’t Starve with Food in Front of You

Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who wasted away, pierced by lack of the fruits of the field. Lamentations 4:9

I spent Sunday afternoon walking amid billowing flags. Each flag bore a name—and a story. They represented the lives lost on September 11, 2001.

I find it difficult to describe the feeling. I stood before a seemingly endless display. 3000 flags simultaneously representing life and death. Joyful memories. Devastating anguish.

The mind battles to accept the magnitude of it. We weep for the families suddenly ripped apart in one, single terror-filled day.

But God whispered something into my heart as I stood in that sea of red, white, and blue.

Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who wasted away, pierced by lack of the fruits of the field.

We waste away, beloved. God’s children and the lost He sends us to. We starve rather than thrive because the fruit meant to nurture and sustain us has depleted.

And according to God’s Word, we’re better off dying quickly at the hand of another than wasting away slowly and painfully, starving for fruit.

Perhaps you know the starvation I’m talking about. You feel empty. Alone. But you can’t really explain why. You struggle to find joy, even when something good happens to you. In fact, if you’re honest, you really haven’t felt happy in a long time. You have much in your life you should be thankful for, yet you don’t feel grateful. Something looms before you unattained, and the weight of it feels heavy. Too heavy. You feel overwhelmed, and you don’t know how you’re going to make it.

Can you relate to any of those feelings, dear one? They point to the absence of fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

God created us to bear fruit in His image, beloved, to fill the earth with all that He is (Genesis 1:27-28). Man has filled the earth, but we don’t reflect the image of our Creator. Instead, we more closely resemble His enemy. Sin’s seed implanted in man’s heart has changed our fruit.

Love has become selfishness that breeds hate.

Sorrow overtook our joy.

Instead of peace, we naturally worry.

Instead of patience, anger erupts.

In place of kindness, we hurt people.

Evil has overrun goodness.

Faithfulness withers into doubt.

Harshness crushes gentleness.

Self-control is all but lost.

God’s image on earth has become overshadowed by the image of the evil one. And all humanity wastes away, starving without proper fruit.

Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who wasted away, pierced by lack of the fruits of the field.

God wants to change that, beloved. Jesus went to the cross to make us fruit bearers.

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:8

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” John 15:16-17

Dear one, Jesus died to restore us to God’s image, equipping us to fulfill our original purpose. He calls His church to rise in the power of the cross, putting sin to death and allowing His Spirit to reunite us with our Creator. Fully. Completely. So that His fruit may come forth in us and the earth can flourish with His life.

But instead of rising in the cross’s power, we exalt the power of sin. We proclaim its strength over our inadequacy. We justify its presence in us, giving life to what Christ put to death.

Why do we exalt sin's power? The cross conquered sin. Don't give life to what Jesus put to death. Click To Tweet

Perhaps we should read what God says about us.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Jesus gave us His own divine nature, dear one. The nails that held Him on that cross also crucified our sin there. Sin has been defeated, rendered powerless.

I sense the question rising. Then why do believers still sin?

Because we do not yet believe we’re who scripture says we are. We still see ourselves in our fallen state. 2 Corinthians 3:18 holds the key to our sanctification.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Experiencing the power of the Gospel comes down to one simple choice: opening the Word to see God as He truly is. When we behold God in truth and believe, the Spirit within us transforms us bit by bit into the image that we see. Why? Because everything God is, you now are. And as you receive the truth of your new nature into your heart, the Spirit waters that new seed giving it life, and fruit bursts forth.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. Psalm 1:1-3

Oh, beloved. Let God show you who you are. People are starving. They need fruit.

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What Are Your Choices Costing You?

“Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.” 1 Kings 8:61

We love to celebrate God’s grace. His love and mercy offer so much blessing we don’t deserve, we often find ourselves tempted to think our choices don’t matter. God forgives, so we trust He overlooks the little things. Especially if our lives produce good kingdom works.

I wonder if that’s what Solomon believed.

Solomon inherited the kingdom of Israel through God’s promise to his father, David. Even Solomon’s birth unfolded in wrappings of grace, evidence of God’s redemption after his father’s grievous sin with Bathsheba and his attempts to cover it up.

But David’s sincere repentance unleashed marvelous blessing upon his son. And God gave Solomon a kingdom he had not earned.

When the time came for Solomon to take his throne, David gave him these instructions.

“Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek out all the commandments of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you forever.

 And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.” 1 Chronicles 28:8-9

Solomon started out dedicated to God’s ways. He sought God’s wisdom and God honored him, exalting him high above all other kings. Solomon built God’s earthly dwelling place, a glorious temple of gold, and his kingdom prospered with wealth and peace. God blessed Solomon, just as He promised He would.

But Solomon had one area of his life that he neglected to submit to God, one fleshly appetite he continued to feed in spite of God’s Word on the matter.

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. 1 Kings 11:1-4

In spite of God’s warnings, Solomon clung to foreign women who did not follow Israel’s practices. And just as God predicted, Solomon did the unthinkable.

Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods. 1 Kings 11:7-8

Unbelievable. The son of promise entrusted to build God’s house on earth also erected places of worship to other gods—demons who defied his God—on the mountain east of Jerusalem.

Why? To please his wives—the ones God warned him not to marry. Solomon allowed his appetite for women to pull him away from heeding God’s words.

And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. 1 Kings 11:9-10

 Did you catch it, dear one? On two separate occasions God appeared to Solomon to warn him and call him to repent. But Solomon refused.

Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.” 1 Kings 11:11-13

Like his father, Solomon enjoyed the remarkable privilege of hearing from God. Another similarity also unites them. Both found themselves caught in sin, pulled away from God by the strong desires of their flesh. Yet one marked difference separates the legacies of these two men.

David loved God more than his sin, so he fell on his face in repentance when God confronted him through the prophet Nathan. And God poured out blessing that could not be undone.

Solomon loved his sin more than he loved God, so he built altars that defied Him. His refusal to repent cost both him and his children eternal blessing.

I have to ask, beloved. What are your choices costing you?

God kept His word to Solomon, exalting Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s servants, to rule over the kingdom of Israel.

“But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand and will give it to you [Jeroboam], ten tribes. Yet to his son I will give one tribe, that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to put my name. And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.” 1 Kings 11:35-38

Nothing would keep God from keeping His promise to David. He watches over His word to perform it. But Israel became a divided kingdom because of one area of unsurrendered ground in Solomon’s heart. And his inheritance—the blessing that would also pass to his children—diminished to 1/12 of the blessing God had intended for him.

I wonder, dear one. What blessings are we cutting off from our inheritance because we don’t walk in God’s ways with all our hearts? Do we daily deny our Lord through appetites that defy Him?

In the days of the kings we just read about, the cross had not yet defeated sin. Sin still had authority to rule and reign within man’s heart. Yet God still held them accountable for their sin in every way their hearts denied Him.

 How much more will He hold us accountable on this side of the cross, beloved?

Jesus freed us from the bondage of every sin. Fear. Lust. Greed. Selfishness. Pride. No stronghold remains that Jesus did not defeat. He has given us the power to overcome every fleshly appetite.

Repent, beloved, and rise to receive your full inheritance.

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If Only I Had Moved

Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” Exodus 33:18

Our hearts hunger for glory. We want God to show up and prove that He’s who He says He is. We long to see the miracles recorded for us in scripture.

But we don’t want to have to participate. We’d rather sit back and watch God show up. At least, that’s what I discovered about myself.

I sat with my mother in the oncology wing at Exeter hospital while she rested during her chemo drips. I’d decided to use the quiet moments to catch up on some ministry work.

I never saw the woman enter the hospital. My position behind the curtain in our little cubicle blocked my view of the hallway, and my fingers clicking across the keyboard had stolen my attention from everything else. I hardly noticed the presence of another patient in the curtained room beside me.

Until I heard her.

A painful cry pierced the monotonous buzz of hospital activity. “Stop it, please! It hurts! It hurts!” Panicked wailing accompanied her cries.

My eyes lifted from the computer screen to my mother’s face. Her eyes fluttered open, and we looked at one another with increasing concern. The cries lingered on. We waited to hear sounds of relief, but her anguish only increased. “We need to pray for that poor woman,” Mom said. I nodded agreement and silently lifted her before my Father.

I heard her story unfold through broken, anguished sobs. She had come for a blood transfusion. I don’t know what illness plagued her, but I know her journey had been long. And hard. The continual treatments had caused her veins to collapse, and now even what helped her, hurt her. She was tired of the pain.

And she had lost hope. “I can’t do this any more.”

Something stirred in me to go to her, to put my hand on her and call upon the Great Physician to open her veins and ease her suffering. Almost simultaneously another thought overshadowed the urge to rise from my chair. She doesn’t want you to bother her. You’re a stranger. She doesn’t want to know that everyone is listening. Just pray where you are.

 So I never got out of my chair.

I reasoned that she wouldn’t want me to pray. Her demeanor suggested she might kick me out of the room. Besides, I had ministry work to finish.

Shame rises in me as I type those words. Ministry.

Beloved, what is ministry without love?

Jesus came into this world to meet people in their suffering, to call a lost world that has forgotten their Father back to Him. He watches us striving to grab hold of life by any means. And He sees us fail, because life is only found in Him.

Yet people don’t know, because the deceiver has veiled God’s glory (2 Corinthians 4:4). They believe they’re alone in their suffering, that there is no hope because they’ve exhausted all their own resources. They don’t understand that hope lies in their Heavenly Father and has been poured out to them through His Son.

And they won’t know. Unless we tell them. Unless one who houses the Spirit of God within her rises when He calls to reveal Him. And offers love in the midst of hopelessness.

I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan. A man lay bleeding, beaten and robbed. A priest and a Levite both passed by on the other side of the road, perhaps even on their way to do “ministry.” They missed that love defines ministry.

I wonder if the priest and the Levite in Jesus’ story did what I had done. Perhaps they muttered a silent prayer, convincing themselves they had done their part. But they still left the man bleeding and half dead on the side of the road.

Yes, God hears every prayer, dear one, even the silent ones. But that suffering woman on the other side of the curtain that day never knew anyone cared. Her circumstances hadn’t changed. She felt as alone and hopeless as she did when she came in. And if God had touched her in response to my prayer, she never would have known He did it. Her gratitude would’ve gone to the nurse that finally found the right vein.

And she would’ve left still not knowing the God who wanted to save her.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8

Glory lurks in every dark place, beloved, waiting for exposure. God releases it when His people show themselves as His disciples.

We show ourselves when we love, dear one.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

God desired to move in that woman’s life. He wanted her to know the comfort only He can give. And He wanted me to show her.

Forgive me, Father. Thank you for your new mercy every day. Sift my heart, Lord, and make me faithful to respond to You alone. I ask again for Your healing touch upon that woman. You know her name. You know her need. Send a faithful one, that she might know and experience Your love through another. Please, Father. Don’t allow my shortcomings to rob her of Your blessings.

 If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

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The Secret of Holiness

I have to confess, the last several weeks have been hard. I’ve experienced all manner of emotions, walking alongside my mom and dad through her cancer diagnosis while simultaneously preparing my oldest son to leave for college. Joy mingles with tears. Hope battles fear. Thankfully, the Prince of Peace reigns.

And as I seek His face, I am reminded of the glorious purpose revealed through suffering.

Holiness.

Today’s blog is an excerpt from a book the Lord ministered to me through last year, Secrets of the Secret Place. Today, He drew me back to these pages, and I felt compelled to share them with you. May you also discover the glory of the secret place.

The Secret of Holiness

Bob Sorge

Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. Psalm 24:3-4

LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart. Psalm 15:1-2

… Holiness is not an inherent quality we carry; it is a derived quality that we take on. Holiness has but one source, the Holy One. Holiness has to do with proximity to the throne. The seraphim are called “holy ones,” not because of who they are but because of where they are. They are “holy ones” because they live in the immediate presence of the Holy One! I am holy to the extent that I abide in His holy presence.

I used to define holiness more by what we don’t do, but now I define it more by what we do do. Holiness is found in drawing near to the holy flame of the Trinity. There, anything unholy is burned like stubble, and all that is holy is enflamed and made hotter.

“For the LORD God is a sun” (Psalm 84:11). As my Sun, the Lord is my light, my warmth, the one around whom my life revolves, and He is the one who brings forth fruit from the garden of my life. His Spirit waters my life, His word nourishes my life, and His face is the power that causes the fruit of my garden to grow. As a planet revolves around the sun, I want my life to revolve around Christ. I want to be a planet, not a comet that swings by every 300 years only to return to the darkness. And I don’t want to be a Pluto, hanging out on the furthest fringe. I want to be close—blazing with the same holy fire that radiates from His face. …

Holiness is much more than simply clean living. Holiness is a life lived before the throne of God. The Scripture says of John the Baptist that “Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man” (Mark 6:20). John was not simply just (clean). He was much more than that; he was also holy. He was set apart to God, carrying the presence of God, a man of heaven living on earth. John lived in the presence of God—which is why Jesus called him “the burning and shining lamp” (John 5:35). Just and holy men cause kings to fear. They’re not just pure; they also burn with the flame that emanates from their fiery abode around the throne.

Holiness is to prayer as fire is to gasoline. When a holy man or woman prays, explosive things happen. We don’t pursue holiness for the sake of power, we pursue holiness for the sake of love. But those who pursue holiness out of affection for Jesus become very influential in the courts of heaven. James 5:16 links holiness and prayer: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Things change on earth when a holy man or woman, with a cultivated secret life in God, prays with passion and urgency to the Lord he or she has come to know and love.

God is so committed to bringing us into this holiness that He is willing to do “whatever it takes” to get us there. The Bible points out that the main purpose of God’s chastening in our lives is primarily “that we may be partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). If we will respond properly to His disciplines, they inevitably lead us via the pathway of repentance to true holiness. When the chastening first comes, it feels like God is trying to kill us. But if we will persevere in love, crucifixion and burial is followed by resurrection!

I want to close this chapter with this powerful truth: Holiness produces resurrection. As certainly as chastening produces infirmity and brokenness, holiness produces resurrection, deliverance, and healing.

It says that the Lord Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). In other words, it was Christ’s holiness that precipitated His resurrection. …

…You can’t keep holiness buried forever. Even if you feel dead and buried under the weight of God’s disciplining hand, devote yourself to His holy presence. Regardless of your shattered dreams and deferred hopes, live in the secret place of the Most High. It is the secret of your redemption. As you love Him from your grave, you are setting powerful spiritual forces into motion. Joseph was buried in prison, but because of his holiness they couldn’t keep him buried forever. The longer you try to keep a holy man buried, the more force must be exerted to keep him there; and the more force that’s exerted to keep him buried, the higher his resurrection will eventually be. Keep Joseph buried too long, and he’ll rise to the heights of the palace.

The grave could hold the Holy One only until the beginning of the third day. Death’s grip gave way, and Holiness rose to the highest place:

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

Practice the holiness of His presence, O weary saint. It’s inevitable—holiness will rise again!

 

Excerpt from: Sorge, Bob. Secrets of the Secret Place. Grandview: Oasis House, 2001, p. 136-139.

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When Enemies Take God’s Ground

After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. 1 Samuel 10:5a

Scripture is packed full of hidden treasure waiting to be uncovered. I believe 1 Samuel 10:5 holds one of those valuable gems.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem to offer anything too extraordinary. I passed over it many times without much pause.

But my ESV Bible offers literal Hebrew translations to many significant words, and this time something stirred in me to check out the footnote. To my surprise, I read the following words.

Gibeath-elohim means the hill of God.

Let’s try inserting the meaning into the sentence.

After that you shall come to the hill of God, where there is a garrison of the Philistines.

Do you see it, dear one?

I’ll ask the question you should be asking. What in the world is a Philistine garrison doing on the hill of God?

Think it through a moment. A blaspheming enemy of God had been permitted to build a fortified stronghold on God’s property. Enemy troops were dwelling on God’s hill and oppressing God’s people.

How could this possibly happen? How could something that belongs to God come under the control of God’s enemy?

It only happens one way, beloved. The people of God allow it.

Perhaps you’ve believed that God’s possessions could never come under the oppressive rule of His enemy. Scripture disagrees.

In fact God repeatedly entreats His people to draw near and obey His voice so that He may bless them. He also warns of the consequences of neglecting to do so.

“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you…The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies…” Deuteronomy 28:15, 25

I don’t know about you, but I find that thought unsettling. When God’s people don’t obey Him, He causes our enemies to defeat us.

 I can’t help thinking of James 4:6.

 “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

When we don’t choose to draw near and trust God’s voice, He actually opposes us. And the enemy gets to set up camp on God’s holy hill—with permission to oppress His people.

Isaiah 63:18-19 describes what people who have surrendered God’s ground to the enemy look like.

Your holy people held possession for a little while; our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary. We have become like those over whom you have never ruled, like those who are not called by your name.

Do you see it, dear one? When the adversaries of God are allowed to trample His sanctuary—His dwelling place—the people of God resemble the rest of the world. They are just like those who don’t bear His Name.

Beloved, those words describe much of the present church.

Our wandering from the Word of God has allowed the enemy to set up camp in God’s dwelling place. We call ourselves by His name but bear no distinguishing mark of His presence. The same oppressor who has his way in the world is having his way in the lives of God’s people.

That shouldn’t be, dear one. The people of God should bear the mark of His hand upon us. His blessing should be evident to the world around us.

Do you want to experience the favor of God, dear one? Do you long to know the power of His anointing on your life?

Join Him in His purpose. Get the enemy off His ground by committing to obey His voice. Only then will we see God reveal Himself.

We’ve all experienced wonder at the stories of the Old Testament. We marvel at the miraculous defeat of a giant by a boy with a sling and a stone. We shake our heads at the idea of the fortified walls of Jericho crumbling at the shout of God’s people. We are amazed when considering Gideon’s band of 300 defeating an enemy of thousands.

One common denominator connects those miracles, beloved. Each time a child of God stood in faith to remove an enemy from God’s ground and establish the rightful place of God’s people.

None of God’s heroes were trained in warfare. They didn’t bring special expertise and experience. They simply chose to believe what God said. And their faith released the favor of God—the arm of God—to move on their behalf and accomplish His purpose.

We are desperate to see God move, but we’ve focused on the wrong things. We want God’s favor to promote our own agendas. But God’s favor falls when we join His.

Let’s obey God’s voice and get the enemy off His ground.

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Will You Pray With Me?

He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Psalm 107:20

I write today from the deep places of my soul.

This world is sick, dear one, ravaged by the dominion of evil. Separation from our Creator has left us deeply wounded. Instead of life flourishing, it withers under sin’s curse.

And that curse has reached into the heart of my family as right now two dear family members fight to see life triumph over stage four cancer. Yes, two of them. Sisters. Two beautiful, God-fearing women who love Jesus, who did not even know they were sick until recent diagnoses revealed an enemy working in secret.

Yet hope stirs within me because I know my God. He is good; that truth never changes. And He has a way of revealing His greatest glory against a backdrop of suffering.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13

Our flesh rejects that command. Rejoice when you participate in suffering? Perhaps we find it so difficult to rejoice because we don’t really believe in the promise.

You may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

I believe, dear one. I believe with all my heart that glory is about to reveal itself in our midst.

I can’t say how, exactly. I just know that it is. God is stirring my heart with a hope, a vision that slowly takes shape but has not quite come into focus. It remains partially veiled.

Some people believe that leadership is all about showing strength. If that’s true, I’m no leader. I write confessing my need.

Will you join me at the mercy seat, beloved? Will you come with boldness to the throne of grace?

You see, amazing things happen when the people of God unite in prayer—especially in the midst of adversity. The saints uniting over Peter’s arrest made shackles fall from his hands and removed him from a locked prison. United prayer ignited the fires of Pentecost, unleashing the power of the Holy Spirit that birthed the church. And when Nebuchadnezzar ordered every prophet killed if no one could tell him what he had dreamed and interpret it, friends joined Daniel in prayer, releasing unknowable wisdom that saved them all.

So I invite you to pray with me, beloved. But the healing I seek isn’t just for my mother or her sister. Not just for the hearts of my sons who may fear an uncertain future. Not just for supernatural strength to serve those I love with grace.

I seek healing for the body of Christ. My heart longs to see Christ’s glory revealed in the lives of His people. This isn’t merely a desire. It is a deep longing birthed in the Word of God and gaining strength as the Spirit kindles its message within my heart.

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 61:2

Jesus seeks to reveal the power of His name.

So I ask you to join me in prayer over my mother’s surgery on Friday. But I also ask you to pray for me over the next few weeks as I seek the face of my God to lift the veil on what remains hidden. A new Bible study bursts forth from my heart, one that I believe God will use to awaken His church to the hope of our calling, giving us understanding that will release the power of God in our midst.

Our enemy doesn’t want to see God’s people living in victory. But the One who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world. Will you join me in prayer to see God’s kingdom come?

Thank you, dear one.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Psalm 27:13

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How You Are Affecting the Headlines

And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. Luke 6:33

“Don’t hate evil more than you love good.”

I read those words in a Facebook post a few days after the Dallas shootings. A police officer had posted a heartwarming story of a woman and her little boy who approached him to thank him for his service and pray for his safety. He shared how the kind gesture had touched him deeply and ended his post with this advice.

Don’t hate evil more than you love good.

The statement is simple, yet profound. Perhaps you should take a moment to contemplate it.

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Most of us would readily agree that we hate evil. We see its handiwork unfolding before us, getting much nearer than we ever anticipated it could. And far too many have personally felt the agony of its reach.

And we stand appalled, as we should.

We hate evil.

But hating evil does nothing to stop its movement. The real problem—the reason evil’s reach continues to expand— is that the people of God haven’t embraced loving good.

Don’t get me wrong. We like the idea of good. And we certainly like to think of ourselves as good people. But we rarely take the opportunity to release some good into someone else’s life.

We may think about it, but we don’t often do it.

Hear my heart, beloved. A great chasm exists between hating evil and loving good, and if we‘re honest, we’d have to admit that most of us dwell there.

It has a name.

Complacency.

And when we float along in the sea of complacency, nothing changes. Evil continues to harm.

Yet we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re doing our part, because we hate evil. So we voice our outrage. We join the ranks of those casting blame. We shake our heads in disgust at those who do violence. We accuse.

But that’s all we do. And our anger over the evil we hate only swells its tide, feeding its wrath and giving it strength.

Because hatred itself was born out of evil.

Beloved, only something contrary to its nature can overcome it. If we want to see evil defeated, you and I need to embrace God’s command in Romans 12:21.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Only good holds the power to stop evil, dear one. Simply hating evil won’t overcome it. Evil will suffer defeat when God’s children begin to take on His nature and express His goodness. We must learn to love good more than we hate evil.

How? By giving of ourselves.

By taking time to stop and pray with someone in the middle of our busy day instead of simply saying we will. Or blessing a stranger by paying for their meal in a restaurant or offering help when we see them struggle. We love good when we send an encouragement to a hurting neighbor or make them a hot meal.

Goodness—the nature and character of God—released into the world around us will begin to diminish the enemy’s power at work in our midst. We overcome evil with good.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus said in Matthew 7:19,

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Failing to produce good fruit is useless. Anything else only feeds evil. Expressing love is our answer. Giving of ourselves even when it’s not comfortable. Because love is never about what we say, it’s always about what we do.

 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18

This generation cries out for hope. People long to know and believe that the evil rising in our midst won’t win. You and I hold the means to prove it. The Spirit of God who only gives good gifts (James 1:17) dwells within us. Let’s let Him loose!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Beloved, the tide of evil will only diminish when we begin to love good more than we hate evil. When our actions—not just our thoughts—begin to release goodness and love into the world.

I’m game. Are you?