Exposing Truth

Exposing the Truth

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

I grew up in Bible-believing, Baptist churches.

They taught me that the words etched on the pages of Scripture set the foundation on which I should live. I learned that obeying those words pleases God and earns His blessing. The other half of that equation filled me with dread: disobeying those words brings judgment. I determined early on which side I wanted to fall on.

But as I grew to know more of God’s Word, I made an uncomfortable observation. I didn’t know anyone whose life looked like the one God described. Mine certainly didn’t. Which led me to the only obvious conclusion. Either God’s Word was a sham, or I was missing something.

We all were.

Then one sleepy afternoon in my living room, God shattered my pretenses with a question, “Do you love Jesus?” I almost brushed the question off. Of course, the answer was obvious. I’d been going to church my whole life. I knew the Bible stories. I had memorized Scripture.

But that day, God wouldn’t let me hide behind religion. That day, I encountered the Truth that changed everything.

I finally encountered Jesus.

And from that encounter, I was able to see what the enemy had kept hidden from me for 26 years. God Himself. I didn’t love Jesus. I didn’t even know Him. And without love, we gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3).

I had been guilty of the Pharisees’ sin.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40

Beloved, we can know Scripture backward and forward and not know Jesus. And if we miss knowing Him, it will cost us everything. Jesus said so.

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3

Do you know Him, dear one? Has your heart collided with His in a glorious encounter that changes you? Because an authentic encounter with Jesus will change you. We cannot enter into the transforming love of God and remain the same. He is a restoring, life-giving God who leaves His mark. But He will never force Himself on us. Instead, He pursues us and invites us to respond to His love.

That’s what the cross is really about, dear one. Jesus died so you could know the Father’s heart and allow His love to flow through you.

So, why don’t our lives reflect God’s glorious promises? Because we have closed off our hearts to love. We’ll try to use God’s words to earn His blessings, but we simultaneously reject His heart.

Recently, John 1:17 came alive to me in a fresh revelation.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

I had always equated God’s law with His Truth. They were synonyms, additional ways to describe God’s Word.

But here, God makes a clear distinction between them.

Law does not equal truth.

Truth brings something more, and it arrived on the scene with Jesus.

Beloved, law reveals God’s words and ways. Truth carries His heart behind it. If we receive God’s words but reject His loving nature, we render those words powerless.

Think of it this way. Luke 8:11 describes God’s Word as seed. That perfect seed carries the full potential to bloom into its spoken purpose, but the seed itself won’t blossom without water to activate and grow it. God waters the seed with Himself, the Living Water of His own Spirit. Galatians 5:22 describes Him.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…

God Himself activates the power of His Word, dear one, and God is love (1 John 4:8). That’s the Truth Jesus brings. He came as a glorious expression of the Father’s love and kindness toward us, and that love alone can empower us to fulfill the law.

Do you want to live the promises, beloved? Open your heart to love. Tell Jesus you want to know Him and invite Him to reveal Himself. He will be faithful to answer that prayer and lead you on a journey into resurrection power.

The deceiver has used religion to keep you from God’s promises. Let’s break religious shackles and enter into love. Perhaps God is stirring this question in your own heart, “Do you love Jesus?”

Don’t be afraid of the Truth, beloved.

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

 

Don’t be Fooled by False Evidence

And he identified it and said, “It is my son’s robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” Genesis 37:33

On March 7, 2020, my husband and I boarded a plane for an island in the Caribbean to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Some dear friends joined us for their 30th, and we enjoyed a fantastic week together sharing in the wonder of God’s goodness. We returned on March 14th to a world turning upside down in fear of Covid-19.

International travel restrictions compelled me to stay home in self quarantine for 14 days. By the second day, I began to feel ill. Although I had no cough or fever, a dizzy head and aching body unsettled me. A nagging fear began to whisper that I had picked up the deadly virus and was putting my family at risk.

After 12 days with no change, I called my doctor. He confirmed my suspicion that I likely didn’t have Covid-19 but had picked up some other virus which should soon work itself out.

The achy, viral feeling eventually ended, but I didn’t return to feeling normal. Dizziness continued to plague me in waves, along with a strange, floaty feeling in my arms and legs. A new fear slowly emerged from my history, “Your thyroid has stopped functioning properly again, and you’ve come out of remission.”

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease. An overactive thyroid caused my systems to operate in overdrive and was particularly threatening to my heart. Medication and a radical diet change brought me into remission, allowing me to avoid the looming options of surgery or radiation. Praise Jesus, He healed me! I have been medication free for well over a year.

Until the voice began to whisper that what God had done had been undone.

As the symptoms continued, I became more and more convinced that was the problem, and I called my doctor to get a new prescription to carry me through the next few months of pandemic lockdown. He refused to give me the medication without checking my blood, so I made the journey to a lab. Two days later, I received the call that my thyroid was operating in normal levels, and he would not give me the medication.

Why do I share this with you? Because our enemy is a deceiver who manipulates our hearts and minds through fear.

He works to separate us from what God has spoken, and he even fabricates evidence to substantiate his lies. He is the ruler of the kingdom of the air, playing at our hearts with suggestion. And over those weeks while fear oppressed this nation with increasing power, I allowed the enemy to convince me that a lie was true. Had it not been for a conscientious doctor, I would’ve created a greater problem by taking unnecessary medication.

Beloved, our enemy fabricates evidence to convince us to agree with him instead of God. He uses fear to persuade us that the worst is true.

Our opening Scripture offers a perfect illustration of his tactics. Jealous over their father’s affections, Jacob’s sons had sold their brother into slavery. To cover it up, they took Joseph’s robe—a gift from Jacob—and coated it in animal blood. When they presented the bloody robe to their father, they didn’t utter a word. They simply presented the evidence.

The deceiver then led Jacob to a false conclusion. “A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.”

Jacob was certain of the conclusion he’d come to. Without doubt. Unfortunately, he was convinced of a lie. Joseph was alive and well, repositioned by God to Egypt where He would use him to save and bless a nation.

Our logical conclusions often lead us away from truth. I wonder, dear one. How often does the enemy author your conclusions, convincing you that his lies are true?

Another lie crippled a nation and kept Israel from entering God’s promises. When Moses sent spies to check out the promised land and bring back a report, they returned with evidence proving the land was bountiful, just as God had said. They also brought back a lie based in fear.

And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them. Numbers 13:33

The spies saw the evidence presented to them—giants possessing the land God promised them—and came to the conclusion that those giants saw them as insignificant insects. But who told them that the inhabitants of Canaan thought of them as grasshoppers? Where did that perception come from?

Decades later, when Joshua would finally lead Israel into that very land, God exposed the truth. Joshua’s spies found refuge from Rahab. I’ll let her tell you why she helped them.

“I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Joshua 2:9-11

While fear had told Moses’s spies that the people of the land saw them as grasshoppers, reality was quite different. Their hearts were melting in fear of the God of Israel, and they were convinced of their own destruction. They were still convinced of it, 40 years later.

If only Israel had entered the land at God’s command to claim their victory! Instead, they partnered with the lies of the enemy—rejecting both God and His promises—and lived out the rest of their lives in the scarcity of the wilderness.

Wilderness beliefs can’t enter God’s promises.

Oh, dear one. Let’s stop letting the enemy convince us his lies are true. Let’s stop settling for the devil’s wilderness when God offers a land flowing with abundance.

We need to know the Truth to recognize the enemy’s lies. His name is Jesus.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6

Invite Jesus to show you the way into Truth that leads to life. He won’t disappoint you. He can’t.

His perfect love will cast out fear and lead you to the Father’s abundance.

 

 

Empowered through Connection

Empowered Through Connection

…holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. Colossians 1:19

We live in a world gone mad.

Accusation and judgment hang in the air around us, dividing and isolating us from one another as we submit to the pressure to take sides. Perhaps we should remember the name given to Satan in Revelation 12:10. He is, “the accuser of our brothers … who accuses them day and night before our God.”

When we join him in hurling accusations, we advance his agenda. Make no mistake, beloved. Our enemy has purpose in his schemes. He fears the rise of the church, and in that fear, he divides.

Let’s explore why he focuses his plans on division. What lies at the root of this assault on unity?

Our opening Scripture offers a glimpse into his fears. Christ’s body is nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments.

God grows us through our connections.  

You and I need connection, dear one, both with God and with His people. 

Intimacy with God is essential, but we will limit our growth if we don’t also experience other aspects of His nature through His church. By God’s own design, you were created to connect with other members of His body that will nourish and strengthen you. And through them, God will grow you into the fullness of who He is and propel you into His plans for you.

No wonder Jesus answered the question identifying the greatest commandment with two replies.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

We will need to love both Jesus and the people around us to fulfill what has been prophesied. Our enemy knows that, so he assaults love in our days. Time is running short, and he’s terrified of what he knows the church will become. So, he makes us fear one another to disrupt our connection.

We can’t let him succeed.

Churches have become more divided than ever. We gravitate to people like us and isolate from everyone else. We’ve allowed the enemy to divide us according to our similarities.

But God manifests through diversity, dear one. As individuals operating in unique gifts gather together, God can reveal His fullness. Without diversity, we become paralyzed and stagnant, unable to move. Stuck.

Why? Because,

Movement occurs at the joints.

Our connections are what enable us to take ground. A foot by itself remains stuck in its place, but connecting that foot to a leg that connects to a hip, gives them all the power to advance together. Our connection to those who are different from us will both nourish and advance us.

No wonder our enemy wants to divide us.

Today, we find ourselves in a barren land. Although we claim to carry the life of Christ, we’ve become dry bones. Brittle and separated. Lifeless. Powerless. Losing hope. Centuries ago, God showed the prophet Ezekiel a barren valley filled with dry bones. His command?

 “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. Ezekiel 37:4-5

Ezekiel did what God asked.

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. Verse 7

Don’t miss this truth revealed from the Father’s heart, dear one.

Before the Spirit can fill us with life, we need to let Him connect us.

Not with others who are the same, but with those who are different. Whose gifts can fill our lack and move us where our own can’t, who reveal something of God to us we wouldn’t experience without them. But connecting alone doesn’t reveal God in our midst.

And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them.  Verse 8

Those bones began to have the appearance of life. They had connected and grown flesh. But there was still no breath. More was needed to raise them. They needed a Spirit-led man to discern their lack and pray for the filling that would carry God’s plans to completion.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live. 10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Verses 9-10

Behold, our enemy’s fear, beloved.

He knows his defeat has been declared. God’s army rising on the Spirit’s breath will manifest it.

This wilderness hour is pregnant with purpose. Don’t let the enemy rob you of God’s plans to empower you. Put aside fear and judgment, and dare to step into love. Trust God with your connections.

Let’s rise from the dead and claim our victory.  

 

 

Come to the Table

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5

You and I have a natural desire to run from danger. We’d rather our enemies stay at a nice safe distance, preferably out of sight where we can convince ourselves they don’t exist. And we tend to believe that if God is for us, He’ll agree with our plan.

But God teaches something very different about His approach to enemies. Our opening Scripture reveals a truth many of us overlook. God prepares a place of lavish provision for us right where our enemy is. He leads us into situations where we have to look the enemy in the face. And there, in his presence, He anoints us with the power to defeat him.

Have you ever wondered why God sent Pharaoh and his army to pursue the Israelites after he had finally released them? Perhaps you’re not familiar with the story. The people of Israel had been crying out for deliverance from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. God sent Moses with a promise of rescue and revealed His mighty power with ten plagues in the land. After losing his firstborn son in the final plague, Egypt’s Pharaoh ultimately relented and let God’s people go.

It was finally over. Centuries of oppression and slavery had ended, and God’s people began their journey toward the land God had promised them. Then Exodus 14:4 jumps from the pages of Scripture, bringing with it confusion about God’s character.

“And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.

You read it right. Scripture is clear. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart against the Israelites and led him to pursue them. I imagine you may be disturbed by the questions that first stirred in me. Why would a loving God do that? Does He care so little about the people?

And this is precisely where the breakdown of our faith begins, dear one. The prince of the power of the air whispers questions about God’s motives and character, and in those moments of doubt, we partner with him against God.

The Israelites certainly did.

When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” Deuteronomy 4:10-12

Immediately, the Israelites believed the worst of God. See, God isn’t good. He led us out here to die in the desert. There’s no Promised Land, only pain. We should’ve remained slaves.

The serpent hissed his lies, and the Israelites believed him.

Well, most of them anyway. One kingdom son knew God face to face and refused to wear the shackle of slavery any longer. He stepped into his divine identity—unbound by the world’s limitations—and unleashed heaven’s power through his faith.

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.  14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Moses knew God’s heart and refused to believe the deception. Instead of succumbing to fear, He stepped to the edge of the Red Sea. At God’s Word, Moses lifted his staff in faith, and creation bowed in obedience to its Creator. Winds began driving back the water that held them within reach of their enemy, and God Himself moved behind them as they waited all night for the sea to part.

Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. Verses 19-20

Defying the enemy’s message, faith raised God as a shield between them, until all of Israel could cross through the sea on dry ground.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the Lord threwthe Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. Verses 26-28

Love moved God to send Pharaoh into that wilderness, dear one. He wiped out the entire Egyptian army, securing the future safety of His people. They wouldn’t have to fear Egypt’s pursuit again. The path to Israel’s salvation became the mechanism for Egypt’s destruction. Beloved,

deliverance for God’s people simultaneously destroys their enemies.

But we’ve got to be willing to stand with God in the enemy’s presence. We’ve got to stop grumbling against God and longing for the familiar comfort of our slavery. We have to reject the hiss of the serpent, who whispers that God isn’t good and means to destroy us. Instead, we must believe in the character of the God who loves us and refuse to question His motives. We’ve got to settle the debate in our hearts over whether God is good.

He is, beloved. His motives are always pure. And He loves His children too much to allow them to remain bound in fear.   When He leads you into a wilderness place where the enemy seems to have cornered you, He has merely set you up to manifest a victory, delivering you and destroying your enemy in the process.

Trust His heart for you, dear one. Don’t fear His tables of provision because of their location. In Him, you are always safe. You need only believe.

 

How Does God See You?

He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:19

It’s amazing how God can be so intimately personal, even in a crowd.

Last year I attended a conference with a few leaders from my local church. The invitation had come in a season of tremendous weariness and doubt, following a difficult step of obedience. I knew what God had asked of me was right, but it had left my heart in pieces.  I was desperate for a fresh touch from Jesus.

I found myself weeping in worship, hands raised in praise of my faithful God. So much in my life had been shaken, but I knew He could not be. And from that place of worship, the bodies around me faded away. Eyes closed, I found myself witnessing an intimate scene.

A little girl sat on the lap of her daddy, leaning back into his arms with laughter, eyes fixed adoringly on his face. My gaze followed hers, and time stood still. The way he looked at her took my breath away. Laughter twinkled in his eyes, love pouring over her with absolute delight.

I realized immediately that I was that little girl, and my Heavenly Daddy was revealing His heart. This is how He feels about me.

Oh, Beloved, do you know that your Heavenly Father delights in you?

Somehow that truth washed over me like a healing balm. Because you see, in this world of deception and brokenness, what is real and true about God has been veiled to us. The enemy of our souls would rather drive us into the ground trying to earn God’s love than allow us to open our hearts and believe we already have it.

You see, only our belief unlocks the power of His grace, Dear One. As much as we might try, we can’t earn it. We can only receive it as we believe.

I realized that day that my own faith had limits. Curiously, there was nothing I was unwilling to do for God, but I had unwittingly put limits on what I allowed Him to give. Deep down in my core, a lie lingered that it was my responsibility to earn God’s devotion, that my choices could make Him love me more or delight in me less.

But God’s reality is that He IS love. He can’t do it any less or more. His nature doesn’t change depending on our actions. He always loves fully and extravagantly, and His feelings about us don’t change.

But, Dear One, our perceptions of them do.

…but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. Isaiah 59:2

I’ll be honest. For years I read that Scripture to say that God hides His face from us in disappointment when we sin. But look again, dear one.

That verse says that sin hinders our ability to see Him clearly. We feel separate from Him and we can’t see His face. But in reality, any distance between a kingdom child and God is a lie. He says so.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!  Psalm 139:7-8

God never leaves His children, Beloved. Even in Sheol—a dark pit of our own making—He is present with us. Wooing us. Pursuing us. Delighting in us and desiring to heal us. He doesn’t separate from us in anger or disappointment. Our iniquities simply hide Him from us, convincing us He’s far, when He is not.

Allow yourself to be the child on His lap, dear one, adored and delighted in. That truth is your reality, and it holds the power to filter grace into every aspect of your life. It can break the bondage of striving and dispel the oppressive yoke of the enemy that leaves your soul crushed and defeated.  It doesn’t matter what yesterday looked like, or even this morning. Receiving that love as your own offers the grace the live differently, and to make different choices the next time.

Oh, Beloved, your sanctification isn’t your responsibility. It’s His. And it starts with believing He loves you desperately. I pray Isaiah 62:3-4 over you today.

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,

and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,

and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,

but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her

Love alone will unlock the beauty of your new name and the blessings of His promises toward you. Believe, dear one. Receive.  And live your Kingdom inheritance.

 

blind faith

The Dangers of Blind Faith

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 

1 John 3:1a

Recently, my pastor preached a sermon around our opening Scripture. His message challenged us to reacquaint ourselves with the Father’s love.

I wonder if some of us are still awaiting an introduction.

For many, God’s love remains a theory. We’ve heard about it. We quote Scriptures about it. We may even try to will ourselves to believe in it.

But John invites us to move beyond blind faith in God’s love. He challenges us to see it.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us…

Do you see it, dear one? Have you looked God full in the face and found yourself enraptured by His heart? Have you been caught by the fierceness of His love for you? If you aren’t sure, I’d guess your answer is no.

Many of us have been looking at God through a broken lens. Theoretically, we know that God loves. But something inside of us resists receiving the reality that God sees and desperately loves me. History’s wounds have distorted His truth and impaired our vision, leaving our belief system compromised. If we don’t have a clear view of God, we’ll operate in limited faith.

Take a look at what Jesus said in Luke 11:34-35.

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.”

Matthew 6:23 adds these words:

“… If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

You may not realize it, dear one, but your eye—your ability to see—greatly affects what you experience in this life. If your eye is good—if you see clearly and your perceptions are true—light fills your being. But when your vision is compromised and your eye is bad, your whole body fills with darkness. And not just a few harmless shadows. Jesus described it as great darkness!

“Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.”

Beloved, if the enemy can alter your perceptions, he’ll overshadow your light with darkness. And you will miss experiencing the graces of your salvation.

Isaiah 59:7b-10 offers a vivid picture of what false perceptions—thoughts of iniquity that defy God’s truth—will do.

… desolation and destruction are in their highways. 8The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peaceTherefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.10 We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men.

Precious child of God, are you groping in darkness? Do you look for light, only to find yourself experiencing gloom?

False perceptions—deceptive thoughts that oppose God—come from the enemy and have one agenda: to destroy. They rob us of peace. They hide our path. They release darkness where light should be, preventing Christ’s righteousness from overtaking us. They cause us to grope in the dark like the blind. 

That darkness has an astonishing result.

…among those in full vigor we are like dead men.

Behold today’s church, beloved. Many have become like dead men walking. Oppressed by the darkness. Hoping for light yet walking in gloom—and doubting God’s promises. 

1 John 3:14 sums up our problem.

Whoever does not love abides in death.

Death lingers where love is absent, dear one. We can serve God. We can worship every Sunday. We can read the Word and even memorize Scripture. But none of that matters if our hearts don’t run headlong into His. We need to receive and return the love poured out to us. 

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.

We will only operate in the power of our inheritance as God’s children when we see. We must invite Jesus to reveal who He truly is and allow Him to show us who we really are. Darkness has flooded Christ’s church, extinguishing His light. We have traded our joy for despair, our faith for hopelessness, truth for deceptions.

Let’s proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, liberty for captive hearts, and recovery of sight for the blind.

Lord Jesus, help us to see!

 

Love Bears All Things

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24

We all long for love, and we think we understand it. We’ve felt its pull binding our hearts to another and think we know.

We don’t.

Love is so much more than we have understood it to be. Love revealed itself fully in the shape of a cross.

Don’t let familiarity with Easter’s story diminish its impact, beloved. Invite God to open your heart to a fresh reality, a new depth of understanding.

Love obediently surrendered Himself to a cup He didn’t want. Love endured pounding fists and baseless accusations. Love remained silent while mocking soldiers pounded a crown of jagged thorns deep into His brow. Love felt strips of leather and bone tearing flesh from His back, life and strength diminishing with each crimson spatter. Then Love stumbled in the street under the weight of a wooden cross.

A cross that wasn’t His. A cross that belonged to you and me.

How could Jesus do it? Why would He want to?

Scripture answers that question for us. He did it for the joyset before Him.

… Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:2

You are that joy, dear one. His love for you compelled Him. He saw the weight of sin breaking you, hiding the untapped potential within your soul and stealing your life. And He created a way to release you from it.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24

His wounds have healed you, beloved. They brought death to sin, conquered its power, and released His righteousness in its place. 

Love did that for you, child of God. Because,

Love bears all things.1 Corinthians 13:7

God has captivated my heart with the meaning of that scripture. The Greek word bearsin that verse is stego. It means to cover, as a roof covers a house. 

Take a moment to contemplate that picture. The love of Christ has created a new dwelling pace for you. It conceals, covers, and protects from exposure to harmful elements. It offers you a place of safety, a shelter from the harsh realities of this world.

But it only becomes that shelter to us if we enter it. 

Have you entered into the love of Jesus, dear one?

I only ask because I almost didn’t. I believed in a Name, but I hadn’t opened my heart. And professing Jesus as Lord while withholding your heart doesn’t save. It simply stacks a religious weight on the load you already bear. And that burden will rob you of the very joy that the cross set before you.

Grace is found through death and resurrection. The old passes away, and a new nature rises in its place. But that resurrection only becomes possible one way. We must open our hearts to love. 

You see, our broken, hard hearts keep love out, and God IS love. Our self-protective walls reject the very answer our souls long for. If we withhold our love from Jesus, we deny the healing His cross bought us. And we will miss the blessings of resurrection life.

But if we will open our hearts to Jesus and let His love become ours—if we will offer Him our broken hearts to mend—a miracle occurs. We come alive in His love! And from that place of freedom, we become a shelter for others.

Ann Voskamp describes it this way. 

“Real love is a roof. Real love makes you into a shelter, real love makes you into a safe place. Real love makes you safe.”

(Voskamp, Ann. The Way of Abundance. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 2018. Print. p. 98)

Have you entered into Christ’s love, beloved? 

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

We cannot say we have entered into love when we keep fortifying the walls around our hearts to keep people out. Only a real encounter with Love (Jesus) will free us from the fear of loving others.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18

When we boldly enter into the shelter of Christ’s love, we become an extension of it. We become a safe place for others to run to in a storm. Freed from fear, our love becomes a roof over another.

So very different from the wolves of this world who bite and devour. 

Choose love, beloved. Trust Jesus to open and fill your heart.

And you will live!

Save Now, Jesus!

And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”Mark 11:9-10

We come alive in pivotal moments. Our souls sense the rise of a changing tide and are quick to submit to its power. We love the significance of feeling a shift in the atmosphere, and something in us longs to participate.

That changing tide caught the crowd on the first Palm Sunday. The people could feel something in the air. Prophesies promised centuries ago were breaking through to fulfillment in their generation. 

And they couldn’t hold back their excitement. The crowds encircled Jesus, their voices crying out praise. “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Hosanna. Save now!

The people believed their hearts were ready to receive their Messiah. They spread their cloaks on the road and waved palm branches they had cut from the fields in honor of their King. They declared themselves ready for rescue, to leave the oppressive shackles of the Roman Empire and see their own promised Kingdom established.

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

Their hearts cried out for Jesus to save them. What they didn’t understand at the time—what we still struggle to understand in our day—is that true salvation requires surrender.

The people wanted Jesus to save them, but they wanted it on their terms. They wanted to define what it would look like. And it when it didn’t look like what they expected, they turned on Him.

Less than a week later, the rising tide caught the crowd again. Only this time, it turned their hearts against the One they had declared their saving King.

And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.Mark 15:12-15 

Beloved, how does your heart respond when Jesus doesn’t save the way you thought He would? When His answer looks different than your heart’s cry?

Does your heart stay true, trusting the One who declares He works ALL THINGS for your good? Or do your circumstances dictate whether Jesus becomes your Savior or your enemy?

Trusting Jesus means trusting Him fully. 

If we don’t get that up front, we’ll find ourselves rejecting Him. His ways won’t look like we expect them too. At times darkness will seem to overshadow His light. And that’s when you and I will need to choose, dear one. 

Will we allow ourselves to be caught again by the rising tide of fear that discredits Him? Or will we surrender all that we are to trust His love?

We aren’t ready for rescue if we’re the one telling Jesus what it should look like. In that scenario, we’ve invited Jesus to submit to us as lord—and that removes Him from His position as powerful Savior.

Oh, dear one. Salvation comes through surrender.Salvation comes when we trust Jesus to be Lord over us. When we trust Him to do what He must. Because He knows best.

Jesus IS love, beloved. It’s not what He does. It’s who He is.

And He cannot operate outside of love. He will always choose what’s best, even if it’s what’s hardest.

Like He chose the cross. 

The people thought they needed new government. Save now, Jesus!

What they really needed were new hearts. Hearts that wouldn’t harden over disappointment. Hearts that wouldn’t reject the very help held out to save them. Hearts that could love with heavenly love.

So, Jesus made the hard choice. He risked everything to save their fickle hearts—to save our fickle hearts. He risked being misunderstood. Risked rejection. Risked being hated. 

Because Jesus is love. And He always gives what’s best.

To receive His best for you requires surrender, dear one. It requires softening your hardened heart and opening it to trust. To trust His Way. To trust His Truth.

Only then will you experience His Life.

God is Doing a New Thing!

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 NIV

Hello, dear one.

It’s been five months since I last opened the Scriptures with you. I can hardly believe that time has flown so quickly! I’ve missed sharing God’s Word with you. Thanks for sticking around.

I’ll be honest with you. When God called me to take a Sabbath rest from my weekly teaching posts, I wasn’t sure what that would mean for the ministry.

Don’t get me wrong. I looked forward to the rest. The freedom from weekly deadlines. Time for my body to heal and to seek the Lord with new fervor. But humanly, it’s hard to let go of the work and trust that when you return, you’ll still have people to serve.

I’ve come to believe that rest requires more faith than work does. Rest trusts that God will still do His thing while you rest from yours. That He still holds everything together for you. That nothing slips from the gaze of the One who never sleeps.

And as I connect with you again during this season of rest from blogging, God has been so faithful. He has never stopped working and moving in this ministry. In fact, as 1 Corinthians 2:9 challenges us to believe, God has exceeded my expectations.

But, as it is written, “… no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Have you ever experienced a beyond imagining move of God in your life? I pray you have, dear one. But if not, I invite you to trust Him for more. He may just knock your socks off.

These past months I have sought God’s heart over His vision for this ministry, asking Him to articulate our mission so we could step boldly into His plan. Three simple statements have emerged that encompass our calling:

Reveal Christ.

Live Truth.

Love People.

Simple, yet profound. Our mission in a nutshell. Reveal Christ to a needy world through our character and our faith. Live according to His Word, releasing the power of His Truth.

And love.

Really love.

Everyone. Not just those who love us. We need to love those who don’t.

Why?

Because love is God’s heartbeat, beloved. Love describes His very being. God doesn’t just love in action (Romans 5:8). He is love (1 John 4:8). And His love holds the power to redeem and transform.

But it must be given. Freely.

“Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:8b NIV

Like Jesus did.

We must learn to live from our heavenly identity and catch people with Christ’s love. Because when love enters, darkness trembles. Hell cowers to God’s presence. And lives change.

I believe that with all my heart, dear one. And I aim to let God prove it.

So, we have stepped in faith to invest in a ministry space. A place where we can teach God’s Word, gather churches to pray, and to minister to hurting people. A place to store provisions for needy families and introduce the broken to God’s love.

And as we stepped in faith, God moved! He brought others to us who wanted to invest in what we’re doing. Builders, plumbers, and electricians offered time and resources to build our offices. A business donated desks and office equipment. Volunteers helped move our Love LIVES donations from our old storage facility in just a few hours.

And now we look at what God has built in a few short months with awe and gratitude. His Spirit leads with vision for the days ahead. And joy floods my heart for what He has yet to do beyond my ability to dream.

So to mark this new phase of ministry, we’ve developed a new logo, centered on the Word of God and boldly proclaiming our mission.

Thanks so much for being a part of our journey. We invite you to join us in our mission.

Reveal Christ. Live Truth. Love People

It will change everything.

Take a quick peek at the warehouse God has blessed us with

Below are photos from our new Love LIVES warehouse where through God’s provision, we meet the needs of abuse victims and broken families in our community. It offers an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus by providing for financial, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. In meeting the most basic of human needs, we build trust. This lays a foundation that enables us to share the love of Christ and the good news of the Gospel.

We invite you to join us in all the new things God is doing through prayer and financial support.

When God Says Rest

When God Says Rest

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Hebrews 4:9-10

Two years ago, after a women’s conference at my home church, I had the opportunity to share a word of encouragement with the speaker. I didn’t know at the time that God would intertwine our paths and allow us to serve alongside one another at several future events. But as I hugged her and withdrew, offering her smiles and warm words, she looked deep into my eyes and spoke a word to me.

“God says rest.”

Her gaze seemed to reach into my soul, and I sensed my Father in it. Her message reinforced something God had already been stirring up in my heart. He called me deeper. To the abiding place, where I would no longer go in and out from His presence. Instead, I would remain there. In that place, I would learn rest in Him.

I acknowledged that to her, and she spoke once more.

“It’s deeper. It’s deeper than that.”

Her words have lingered, surfacing off and on these last two years as I’ve sought to fulfill the call God has placed on my life. I know with certainty that God calls me to deep rest. But I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t known how to find it.

And all the while, Galatians 6:9 beckons relentlessly.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Sometimes our mandates from God can become the very thing the enemy uses to destroy us. The slave driver convinces us to bow under oppression once more. Only this time, we bow in the Name of Jesus. After all, we must continually sow if we hope to reap.

That thinking seems right—even noble—at first glance. But it negates another equally important mandate, one that God finds so significant, He incorporated it into the ten commandments.

“Remember the Sabbath… to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8

God extends two invitations through scripture that seem at cross purposes. Tireless perseverance. And Sabbath rest.

Do you ever find yourself caught in the pull of these two callings? I do. And let’s be honest. If our hearts lean toward Kingdom purposes, the one we more readily let go of is rest. We keep going. Pushing. Believing that God will honor our faithfulness and look with praise upon our efforts.

But does God ever turn a blind eye when we willfully dishonor His Word?

Beloved, God takes His Sabbaths seriously. We often get caught up in work. God wants us caught by Him. And you may be surprised that God links our Sabbaths with how much He will prosper our sowing and reaping.

“When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land.” Leviticus 25:2-5

Perhaps you’re wondering how the Israelites were supposed to survive a year without sowing and reaping. God anticipated your question and gave His answer in verses 20-21.

 “And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop?’ I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years.”

Israel would work for six years and reap an average harvest. But when they rested in obedience to God, He would provide an abundance.

Oh, beloved. Isn’t that what our hearts yearn for? God’s own provision? I will command my blessing on you… a crop sufficient for three years.

When we trust God with Sabbath rests, people will witness Him. They’ll see God manifesting in ways He never could when we’re busy doing everything for Him. They’ll see a harvest that does not match our efforts, but instead surpasses it.

They’ll witness glory.

You see, beloved. Rest takes trust. It trusts that God will keep His Word and provide. It acknowledges that the harvest doesn’t rest on our shoulders, but on God’s.

But what happens if we refuse? What if we insist on working straight through His Sabbaths? God will remove us from our inheritance.

“And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste.”

“Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it.” Leviticus 26:33-35

God manifests through grace, and only humble faith taps into its generous flow. God invites us—has invited me—to trust Him with rest. The invitation once gently offered through a serving sister, “God says rest,” no longer surfaces and retreats. It resounds.

So I am tucking myself away with my God for a while, remembering the Sabbath, and doing all I know to keep it holy. You see, that second part remains the most important. We’re not to rest from God. He is our rest. In our Sabbaths, we visit with Him. He fills us. Nourishes us. Equips us to keep doing the work.

Jesus spoke of Sabbaths in Mark 2:27.

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

I will be taking a break from sharing my Word on Wednesday for a bit—at least through the end of the year. We’ll see what God reveals to me in that time and if He releases me to resume in January. I smile inwardly, considering that this month will complete 6 years of official ministry and continual, weekly sowing. No detail goes unnoticed by God.

I invite you to pray for me. For healing. For discernment. For revelation. For rest.

I look forward to watching Him bring His harvest.