You’re Not Who You Think You Are

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

I wept today.

In case you’re picturing gentle tears of joy or wistful tender memories, it wasn’t. Quite the opposite. Wrenching sobs erupted from someplace deep.

You know the kind. Unguarded vulnerability releasing decades of pain that sent the dog hiding under the desk.

I’m not even certain what triggered it, exactly, except that Jesus has invited me to explore the crimson-stained gifts His cross unleashed for us. And for more than a year, He has repeatedly drawn my gaze back to this promise sprinkled over us through His shed blood.

By His wounds you have been healed. 

I hope you noticed the tense encasing that promise. You have been healed. It isn’t something you’re striving toward, dear one. It’s already happened. You received perfect healing as a gift of grace poured out through the blood of your Savior.

Healing is a gift of grace poured out to us through the blood of our Savior. Click To Tweet

That truth prompts me to ask the question: Am I living as one who has been healed? Do I live out the reality of that promise? Because I don’t feel like it a lot of the time. I seem to vacillate between moments of glorious celebration over God’s faithfulness and ravaging self-doubt.

And I’m tired. Aren’t you?

I’m tired of settling for a theoretical version of the Gospel. Jesus came as a flesh and blood man. He felt real pain and endured real suffering. He shed actual blood. And that blood redeems what the enemy has stolen. It unleashed divine power, not doctrinal theory.

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 1 Corinthians 4:20

I think it’s time we learned to live in that power, don’t you? I’d like to invite you to open your heart and step into this truth with me.

Christ’s blood makes impossible things possible.

Are you living out impossible promises, dear one? You should be, and so should I.  

What if the pain surrounding us in these dark days offers an invitation to raise our expectations and believe God for the more we’ve settled for living without? What if He’s simply waiting for us to exercise the faith that ushers in His impossible promises?

Let’s take a moment to contemplate what God sent Jesus to the earth to do.

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38

Do you see it, dear one? The good that Jesus came to accomplish—what God anointed Him to do—was heal all who were oppressed by the devil. If you’re a human being, you fall under that promise. But don’t miss what enabled Jesus to fulfill His calling. For God was with Him. That detail also allows us full access to God’s promises.

Isaiah 61:1 describes Jesus’ job description with a few more details.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.

Today we celebrate the good news of the Gospel: Jesus came to set captives free! But I need you to notice what precedes experiencing that freedom in this verse. Healing. Jesus must bind up our broken hearts, enabling us to leave our captivity and live free from oppression.

Consider this thought with me, based on my own experiences. How can a woman celebrate God’s work with overwhelming joy and clarity, yet find herself ravaged by doubt and fear in the very same day? How can a person surrounded by loving community find herself feeling completely alone and crushed under the weight of isolation?

Wounds are how. Tender places where the enemy has bitten us and left his mark. Painful experiences linger that have allowed the deceiver to whisper messages into our souls that defy God’s truth about us and rob our identity. So just as we start to move forward into God’s promises, the enemy digs into that old pain to draw fresh blood.

But here’s the thing about wounds, dear one. The Physician can’t bind them if we aren’t willing to expose them. Jesus will never heal a wound we pretend not to have.

You and I need to let Jesus lift the veil on our brokenness. Not to shame us, dear one. We need to expose the wounds we carry so He can heal and restore us, freeing us from the enemy’s influence.

Remember the promise we started with in 1 Peter 2:24,

By His wounds you have been healed.”  

The enemy wounds us by whispering messages into our souls that defy God's truth. Jesus' blood brings healing to all wounds. Click To Tweet

You received that gift of healing the moment you put your faith in Jesus. But, if you find yourself perpetually tormented by darkness, that pain reveals areas where you haven’t yet realized your divine identity. Wounds exist that you have not exchanged for the healing Christ has given you.

Lies remain in your belief system, denying the Truth that sets you free.

Deep down, we already know. The lingering ache in our hearts reveals our need. A longing deep within cries out for more. Let’s stop settling for the lie that this is as good as it gets. Don’t waver between the darkness and the Light. Let’s press into Jesus and let Him reveal His healing in our lives. You’re not who the enemy says you are. Fear and doubt have no business oppressing you. Jesus speaks the final Word.

And His blood declares you healed.

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Are You Rooted or Held?

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 overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7 NLT

Appearances can be deceiving.

This morning while watering my outdoor plants, I noticed a withering vine. I couldn’t tell anything was wrong with it until I stood right next to it. From a distance, the entire plant appeared to be thriving, the little shoot disappearing into beautiful cascades of green blooming with bright pink flowers. But when I got close, a cluster of withered leaves drew my attention.

They hung there—limp—entwined and hiding among the healthy leaves.

A little investigation uncovered the cause. Strong winds from a recent storm had broken the vine at the top, disconnecting it from its life source. True to their climbing nature, leaves from the healthy shoots had wound around it, holding the broken piece in place, but their grip couldn’t offer the life it needed.

Being held in proximity to the root system is no substitute for being rooted yourself.

As I looked at the little broken piece, my heart began to stir for the church. I saw how the enemy has sent storms, strategically designed to sever our connection to Jesus. He has succeeded in more ways than we have realized.

Hidden within our churches, detached hearts languish and wither. From a distance, they appear to be growing and thriving alongside everyone else, but their prosperity is an illusion.

They are held, not rooted.

Instead of connecting to Jesus themselves, the arms of rooted believers hold them close to Him. They receive some level of strength from the people supporting them, their corporate experience of worship and fellowship offering periodic comfort to their wounded souls.

But it can’t restore them.

So, although they’re held close by loving members of the body, they continue to wither. Without personally connecting to Jesus, they will never thrive, no matter how entwined they are with the people who know Him.  

Unless we are rooted in Jesus ourselves, we forfeit our ability to bloom. Click To Tweet

Jesus said in John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

Jesus wants you rooted, dear one. He wants you to personally experience the depth of His great love for you. Only knowing that love becomes an anchor that sustains His life in you, even in difficult times. In Christ’s kingdom, storms shouldn’t destroy and deplete us. When we draw from the Life Giver, they only serve to strengthen us and establish victories over the enemy we didn’t know were possible.

Open your heart to the reality of God’s desires for you, beloved.

…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-18

God wants to fill you with the complete expression of who He is. It begins when you personally encounter His love for you and dare to return it. In that place of unbroken fellowship—rooted in His vast love expressed toward you—the Life He brings will begin to revive and restore what pain has left dead and broken in you.

Oh, dear one. Regardless of the condition you presently find yourself in, you can take hold of this miraculous promise. In Christ’ kingdom, broken and detached branches can be grafted back in!

And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. Romans 11:23

Precious one, don’t settle for earthly expressions of divine fellowship. Go to the Source. Dare to surrender your heart to the One who made it. Offer it to Him freely, and He will give you His in return. Confess your unbelief and invite Jesus to lead you.

And experience the love that will leave you overflowing with thankfulness.

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My Journey into Glory, Part 2

Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2

Grace can be a tricky thing.

We toss the word around a lot in Christian circles, but most of us don’t really know how to live in it. We don’t even really understand it, but we want it. Desperately. So, we keep striving to attain what we’ve already been given. Then we end up frustrated, because we never seem to reach the thing we’re striving for.

Can you relate, dear one? I can.

According to Scripture, only two things give us access to God’s grace and manifest the power of His promises: faith (Romans 5:2) and humility (James 4:6). No amount of striving can acquire it, only faith that submits our hearts to believe in what God has already done.

Faith and humility give us access to God's grace. #graceandglory Click To Tweet

But here’s the real root of our struggle. The deceiver tricks us into believing that we’re trusting God, while underneath, hidden from our own awareness, our faith remains firmly established in a lie that he fed us. That lie—anchored to a painful life experience or old wound—serves as a dam, blocking the flow of power that grace provides to manifest God’s promise. And while our hearts still hold onto that lie, we’ll never believe the truth we’re reaching for—and never realize the fulfillment of that promise. Beloved, your heart can’t believe two opposing things at the same time.

We always reject one to make room for the other.

That’s where I got stuck. Thinking I was leaning into the glorious image of myself God had revealed to me (see My Journey into Glory), while actually resisting it. And I couldn’t understand why I felt this growing distance from God.

I began to cry out in prayer, asking Him to reveal the obstacle I felt between us, and again I saw the image He had shown me. Only this time, I saw cracks fracturing the image, like seeing my reflection in a cracked mirror. When I asked Jesus about it, I heard, “You still pass judgment on what I’ve forgiven. Your slate is clean. The image I showed you is true. The cracked glass is a deception.”

I believe that’s a lie that many of us get caught in. We know what Jesus says about us, but we see it as a “someday” promise.

I’ll be that someday…when I get my act together.

I’ll be that someday…when I get past…

Beloved, the truth is, Jesus already did everything that needs to be done. The only thing left for you and me to do is believe He did what He says He did. And He made that pretty clear in 2 Corinthians 5:17,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

According to Scripture, you and I have already been made new. We are presently new creations in Christ. The old version of us has passed away, and the new one is already here. I knew those Scriptures—and I thought I believed them—but this nagging feeling of separation from God continued to rob me of peace.

Eventually, I attended an intimate weekend retreat to set apart time with the Lord. After dinner the first evening, I discovered that a believer in another state had been praying over my name and had received a word from God for me. I’d never met her or even heard of her, yet God met me profoundly through her as the retreat hostess shared what God had given her for me.

She began by saying, “Welcome to your healing.” Those words alone set my heart beating with fresh hope. She went on to say that when she asked the Lord about me, she saw my hard-working hands bandaged and wrapped. Then she told me the Lord wanted to “heal the scars, swollenness, and open wounds one by one to reveal unblemished hands.”

Tears surfaced as I listened to these words and other encouragements spoken over my life by this precious stranger, relating to many of them. But I didn’t understand it’s full meaning until the following morning in worship when God showed me another vision.

This time I saw Jesus holding my limp body in His arms, my head leaning against His chest. And I saw my bloody hands, red streams trickling down my forearms from the torn flesh of my knuckles. Then the image of my cracked reflection appeared again, and I knew. I had bloodied my own fists smashing the glass, rejecting God’s image of me for a lesser one.

That’s how the enemy works, dear one. He deceives. He binds our hearts with his lies so we can’t believe the truth of what God says, and only truth sets us free. I realized I had been held so long by his lie of rejection that I had become it, pushing away the very thing I believed I was reaching for.

What happened next still astonishes me. Jesus set me down and knelt before me, preparing to dress my wounds. Only before He washed and bandaged my bloodied hands, He took them in His own and did something unthinkable. He kissed them.

Can you imagine it? My Jesus—King of Kings and Lord of Lords—sullied His own lips on the blood of my rejection. He had every right to be impatient with me, to judge my heart for rejecting His provision for me. After all, I’ve been serving in ministry for 11 years, leading others into His promises. I should’ve seen it. Should’ve known.

But He didn’t choose any of that. Instead, He simply loved me. Right where I was. In the mess. In the pain. I didn’t need to clean myself up to receive that love. He was right there, willing to give it. Kissing me in my brokenness, before He ever washed my hands.

Jesus never judges our brokenness. He restores even our self-inflicted wounds. #KnowHisHeart Click To Tweet

That’s the real Jesus, beloved. Kind, merciful, loving, and yours—if you’ll have Him. He is a King with authority to command. He brings victory in His wake. And He loves like no other. But you and I won’t experience that victorious power if we never experience Him.

We need to know Him, dear one. Not just His words, but His heart.

Love makes all the difference.

 

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My Journey into Glory

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. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Hello, beloved.

It’s been a while. I’ve been on a journey with the Lord that shifted my attention from writing for a season. In the midst of building our ministry and discipling people, God has been revealing Himself personally to me in profound and beautiful ways—ways I long for you to experience too. He still heals hearts, you know, and He dearly wants to heal yours.

But I wonder if you even recognize that you need healing. Do you, dear one? I only ask because I didn’t, at least not to the depth that Jesus saw I needed. And you and I will never invite Jesus in to restore what we don’t recognize we need.

So, I’m about to get vulnerable with you. Because we NEED vulnerability. Desperately. Our hiding has kept the enemy powerful, and we need to learn the glory of stepping into the light.

Two years ago in healing prayer, I had a powerful encounter with Jesus. He led me back to a pivotal memory as a small child that had shifted my understanding of who I was supposed to be, and there, my precious Jesus redeemed it. I literally saw Him exchange the influence of that moment with a crisp, clean, white page—a new beginning as He wiped my slate clean.

As our prayer came to a close, my friend sensed in the Spirit, “He wants to show you His glory. Ask Him to show it to you.”

I made the request, unprepared for what I was about to see. The image caught my breath and left me sobbing before my King.

It was me.

Part of me still hesitates to share the moment with you. Even now, the false humility much of the church calls “spiritual” wants to apologize for it. But understanding truth is what sets Kingdom sons and daughters free, so I’m sharing it anyway. I saw myself shining in dazzling splendor. Regal. Crowned. Radiant with light. Glorious!

Instantly, unbelief began to discredit the vision, until the Spirit reminded me of Jesus’ words to His Father on the night He gave His life for us.

The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one, 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.” John 17:22-23

Did you know that you carry His glory, dear one? Jesus poured His glory into you the moment you put your faith in Him. He poured it into me, too. He created us to be His image bearers, reflecting the beauty of His own nature and filling the earth with the glory of who He is. But when we shape our identity around our own life experience and the enemy’s deceptions instead of this truth, that glory remains hidden. And you and I will never live out the full potential of what we carry.

I almost didn’t.

What should’ve unleashed fresh anointing and victorious power in my life set off a war within my soul. My mind understood the truth that Scripture was declaring, and my heart joyfully leapt at the knowledge! But underneath, hidden within the deep wounds of my past, my heart couldn’t believe it for myself. And I didn’t know I couldn’t. I honestly thought that I was leaning into that beautiful promise! But then I began to experience a feeling of separation from God.

It doesn't matter what you know. What matters is what you believe. #onlyFaithAccessesGrace Click To Tweet

Can you relate, dear one? Have you ever felt a shift in your relationship with Jesus that leaves you longing for what you had? Yet no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to get there?

That was me. Loving Jesus. Serving Him. Yet feeling a growing chasm between my heart and His.

This happens, dear one, when our hearts reject the truth He declares over us, when something inside us denies Him by refusing to believe what He says. We can’t experience the intimate fellowship He longs for while we disagree with Him. Amos 3:3 (NKJV) says, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” The answer, child of God, remains “no.”

Beloved, when we reject His words, we reject Jesus.

I will share more of my story next time, but for now, let’s establish the foundational truth I believe God wants to anchor our hearts in. You are a glory carrier. If you have put your faith in Jesus, His glory lies within you. And above all else, He wants to reveal it through you. Not by asking you to perform good works, but by teaching you who you truly are as He shows you who He is.

Take a moment to reflect on our opening Scripture:

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. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Did you see it, dear one? The same image. Not a lesser version. Not an imperfect replica of the true. God desires to transform us into the same image that He Himself bears. Righteous. Regal. Radiant. Pure. Glorious.

Let’s stop allowing the enemy to convince us to settle for less than promises. He schemes to limit the revelation of God’s power on earth by convincing His people that we are less than who we are. Our God is calling us higher, so let’s raise the bar. Jesus accomplished an incredible miracle on that old rugged cross. He made us much more than we think we are. He made us who He is.

Perhaps it’s time we believed Him.

 

Evading the Enemy

“No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 45:17

I think sometimes we forget that God permits the enemy to form his weapons.

He promises victory over our enemy. He doesn’t promise the enemy won’t attack. In fact, he will attack—perpetually—strategically forming weapons to pinpoint our weaknesses and destroy us.

Covid-19 is one of his weapons. Fear is another. Opposition. We’re facing an onslaught of enemy weapons right now.

Yet, we as believers carry a glorious promise. Even when the enemy fashions a weapon against us, our union with Christ won’t allow it to succeed. You and I need to learn how to step into the graces of that truth.

Jesus’ life shows us how.

His story isn’t a string of joyous, wonderful events unfolding to lead Him into ministry. Instead, we see weapons forming against Him at every turn to literally snuff out His life.

The first two chapters of Matthew recount Jesus’ birth and early childhood. This morning, God opened that story to me and gave me a fresh perspective. I was struck by the phrase, “This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet…” (Matthew 2:15) recurring throughout the text.

And I realized something.

God saw the weapons the enemy would form against His Son and spoke in advance what would need to happen to avoid them. His prophetic word revealed the way of rescue, the path that would lead Jesus to safety.

…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Revelation 19:10

We find salvation in the Word of the Lord, beloved. Not merely the written text of the law, but the present Rhema word that God is speaking to align us with the plans He has established for us—our own pathway to defeat the weapons formed against us by our enemy. Jeremiah 29:11 promises that He has already foreseen and established His plan to prosper us. Now, His Spirit wants to lead us on that path into salvation.

When King Herod learned of Jesus’ existence from the wise men who came to worship Him, the enemy fashioned him into a weapon to destroy Jesus, manipulating him through fear and jealousy. God foresaw that this would happen and spoke His deliverance through the prophets in advance.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Matthew 2:13-15

God foretold in advance that Jesus would have to go to Egypt. It wasn’t until the time came to fulfill that prophecy that we learned why. The enemy set Herod’s heart against Jesus to destroy Him, and God established the means to thwart his plans so they wouldn’t succeed. But in order to evade that weapon, those living in the appointed time for that the prophecy had to discern and trust the present Word of the Lord to make it safely through.

The angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph to send his family to Egypt. If Joseph hadn’t trusted God’s instructions, the enemy’s weapon would have prospered.

We see it again when Herod’s death prompted Joseph to return to Israel with his family. Once again, the angel of the Lord commanded his timing, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead” (verse 20).

Joseph would’ve naturally returned to his home in Judah if God hadn’t spoken again.

…and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.Verses 22-23

Do you see it, dear one? The plan to prosper Jesus’ life, spoken over Him by His Father from the very beginning, included the means to evade the enemy’s plans to destroy Him.

Only intimacy with God will render the enemy’s weapons useless.

We need to hear from heaven and align our hearts to trust what we hear. Then we express that trust through our obedience.

Proverbs 3:5-6 rings true, beloved.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Weapons have been formed, dear one. So has the strategy to defeat them. Your safety is found in God’s hands and heart. Draw near. Discern what He’s speaking. And align yourself with what you hear.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19

Thank you, Jesus.

Daring to Hope

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:5 NIV

I love Christmas. It’s always been my very favorite time of year.

Don’t get me wrong. If we’re talking about weather, summer wins. No question. Warm breezes, cookouts, and sunshine beat the gray winter doldrums any day.

But Christmas to me was never about the weather. It was about the feeling.

Do you know the one I’m talking about? My mother called it sugarplums. Every year the onset of Christmas carols, decorated trees, holiday smells, and overflowing trays of Christmas cookies brought inevitable excitement.

Anticipation built with each opened door on the advent calendar. Finally on the night of December 24th, I would lose the ability to sleep altogether.

Fun times.

I wish I could tell you that my childhood excitement over Christmas was rooted in something spiritual. It wasn’t. Although I marveled at the wonders surrounding Jesus’ Bethlehem story, it would be years before I understood its profound significance and opened the gift God gave me in His Son.

No, my childhood Christmas sugarplums came from the presents.

You see, for the 12 long months from one December 25th to the next, my brothers and I would hear one thing from my parents in response to asking for things we wanted. “Maybe. Put it on your Christmas list.”

So we did.

Then we’d wait. And we’d hope. And as the big day drew near, we’d wonder what treasures might actually appear beneath the Christmas tree.

Do you remember what it feels like to hope, beloved?

At some point, even if only for a few brief moments of childhood abandon, all of us have allowed the glimmer of possibility to stir our hearts.

And that stirring kindled anticipation. Perhaps that hope even inspired a step of faith.

You bought that lottery ticket.

You went after that promotion.

You opened your heart to love.

Then you waited and watched. And hoped. And you didn’t get the outcome you desired.

Unfortunately, in a world with very few guarantees, we often end up disappointed. And many of us have discovered first-hand that Proverbs 13:12 proves true.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

And so stories of a child Savior born in a stable with the power to redeem your life seem a bit farfetched. You can appreciate the sentimental wonder of the story, but you dare not open your heart to really believe Him for His promises.

Or maybe Jesus Himself seems to have disappointed you.

Yet Romans 5:5 makes a bold claim.

And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Beloved, biblical hope does not disappoint. But we must pay careful attention to what scripture links that hope to: love poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

You see, we can seek Jesus for His power. We can associate ourselves with His name to try to garner His blessing. But if we pass love by, hope in His name holds no guarantee.

The baby born in Bethlehem wasn’t the means to access God’s gifts. He is the gift.

But we can’t just stand next to Him in church on Sunday. We don’t step into His power by singing songs about Him. We’ll never find healing by owning a Bible we never open.

Love alone releases the blessings of heaven into this broken, troubled world. Love remains the only catalyst to release them in you.

And so the manger offers an incredible hope. Transforming love. Love that must first be encountered, trusted, and received. Love that can then pour out. And change the circumstances of earth.

That’s better than any shiny present under the tree.

Whatever your association with Jesus has been, beloved, will you take a chance on love? Will you open the door to your heart and invite Jesus to reveal Himself? His Spirit wants to write His Word upon your heart and transform you from the inside.

Make sure you open the gift, dear one. It costs you nothing but time and gains everything.

And it’s guaranteed not to disappoint.

 

Thanksgiving

Grateful for Fellowship

We need each other.

As much as we may like to think we can handle things ourselves, scripture teaches that we need one another. God Himself declared His thoughts on the matter in Genesis 2:18 after forming Adam from the earth’s dust.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

For five straight days, God opened His mouth and spoke creation into being. Light emerged. Then dry ground as water separated. The plants and animals followed. And each time, God looked at what He’d made and declared it good.

Until He made man. He saw Adam alone on the earth and declared it “not good.” Adam didn’t even realize it, but he needed another human to assist him in this thing called life.

You, dear one, need helpers too. We all do. God didn’t create us to exist alone. He made us to live together and help one another.

Even Jesus needed people while clothed in human flesh. He called together twelve that would help Him fulfill His calling. And although Jesus went off by Himself to pray, He ministered alongside people. When He sent His Disciples out, He never sent them alone.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” Mark 11:1-3

And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you.” Mark 14:13

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. Luke 10:1

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:2-3

Apparently, God still thinks it isn’t good for us to live alone. We need people. Even in our service, He has no intention for us to go alone. We are meant to live life in the beauty of fellowship. This is the means God chose for us to exist in prosperity—with one another.

In this season of uncertainty where sickness and fear have isolated so many, I pray you are able to experience the blessing of fellowship this Thanksgiving. Love is meant to be shared. So is life. We need each other. I am thankful for the fellowship with precious loved ones this week as we thank God for His goodness, His love, and His provision for us.

Tremendous blessings fall when believers gather in Jesus’ name. Jesus shared one of them in Matthew 18:20.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Whatever your celebration looks like this week, may His love manifest as you gather.

I am so thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

The Narrow Way to Victory

This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:3b

I wonder if you can sense the magnitude of what’s happening in our days. This turmoil isn’t just about our nation. The atmosphere itself expresses the increasing spiritual tension building in the heavenlies. Good versus evil. Life opposing death. Love rising to conquer fear.

We are at war.

But many of us have been confused about who we are fighting. This war isn’t Republican versus Democrat. It isn’t black against white. We battle an unseen enemy, a devil who manipulates hearts. Jesus described him in John 8:44.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

All deception has a source, beloved. You just read about him. Our enemy sowed deception in the hearts of mankind to oppose the very nature of God and keep Him hidden on the earth He created to reveal Himself! Our Creator is Truth and Light, unity and love. Satan operates through deception and darkness, division and fear. What we have experienced as a nation proves his increasing presence in our midst as he divides even brothers and friends on opposing sides.

We can’t allow him to continue.

But we need to understand something about deception, dear one. It deceives. We’re completely unaware of the manipulation. Deceptions make sense to us. They appear right in our mind and hearts, and we feel compelled to follow them.

Hear me, dear one. The greatest danger in our day is not blatant evil. It is evil gaining ground under the guise of apparent good.

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15

I think if we’re honest, we’re hard pressed to know what’s really true in our day. We’ve been conditioned to a particular response, and so whatever we see only serves to reinforce what we already know is true. Here’s a radical thought: What if each of us stopped to consider that we might actually have it wrong?

Isaiah made a declaration that I believe marks our generation.

So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. 15 Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. Isaiah 59:14-15

How can brothers and sisters committed to loving and following Jesus oppose one another so vehemently? Deception is how. The deceiver has entered our midst and set up his throne in the sanctuary of God, manipulating hearts and minds. He has taken the seat we committed to Christ when we professed our faith to follow Him. And we have permitted it, completely unaware that he’s using the very wounds he inflicted on us to manipulate us away from Christ.

What if we pushed pause and asked the Lord to reveal what is true? What does His heart long to communicate to His Bride in this season? What agendas have we allowed the enemy to advance under the guise of right?

Beloved, Jesus is our Way. He is the only Truth. He is our life.

He brings hidden things into the light—not to condemn us, but to save us. To save us from the deceiver who darkens our minds with ignorance and misunderstanding, all the while convincing us that we’re walking in light and truth. To save us from our own pride in assuming we’re right.

We wouldn’t be the first to fiercely oppose the work of God in our day, fully convinced that we stood on the right side. Paul himself—who God later used to write most of the New Testament—began his journey on the wrong side.

And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities. Acts 26:10-11

Paul’s manipulated heart led him to hunt down and destroy the followers of Christ, and he did it in zealous affection for God. He believed he was fighting for the God he actually opposed. The deceiver had completely convinced him that something false was true. Until Truth Himself appeared to him on the road to Damascus.

Paul had a choice in that moment. He could’ve insisted he was right like the other religious leaders in his day and continued pushing his agenda. But he didn’t. He humbled himself to acknowledge his error and spent the rest of his life aligning with the Truth he had found.

Oh, brothers and sisters, this is our Damascus moment. Will we invite Truth to reveal Himself in this hour? Would you join me in humbling your heart to consider that we may not be as right as we think we are?

I heard a beautiful woman of God say recently,

“Curiosity is the rhythm of humility.”

She’s right. Humility marks every true image bearer, and it begins—not with the assumption that I’m right—but with the humble awareness that without divine intervention, my deceitful heart gets it wrong. Let’s not be the prideful Pharisees that pronounce judgment based on our own understanding. Let’s hear from heaven and discern the spirits with humble hearts, prepared to turn in whatever direction the King of Glory sends us.

This is a divine hour. The Lord of Hosts summons the true worshippers to rise. Spirit and Truth will combine to reveal His glory in our midst.

Let’s not be caught stumbling in the darkness.

 

Living in Denial

Living in Denial

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

Self-denial isn’t something we really like to talk about. Our enemy has convinced us to fear it, so we naturally resist it. But he has a reason for influencing us toward self-preservation. If we do not diligently—purposefully—resolve to deny our flesh, we will end up denying Christ.

We won’t intend to, but we will.

Just ask Peter.

He never imagined himself capable of it. He was Peter—the first to confess Jesus as the promised Christ. One of the first to abandon everything to follow Him. The only disciple to walk on water. He would follow Jesus to His death. At least, he thought he would. But Jesus knew better.

On the night of His arrest, Jesus warned His disciples what was about to take place.

“You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’” Matthew 26:31

Peter’s self-confidence got the better of him.

Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. Matthew 26:33-35

Peter had placed his confidence in the wrong source. He didn’t yet understand the flesh’s dominion over humanity. He still believed he could conquer it. In his heart, he knew he was stronger than his flesh and trusted he could will himself to accomplish what he wanted. Even if the rest of them failed, he would not. He felt secure in his self-sufficiency.

Until later that night when he heard the rooster crow.

And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Verse 75)

Face to face with his own inadequacy, Peter wept, humbled by the fresh revelation of what Jesus had already tried to teach them in Matthew 19:26.

“With man this is impossible.”

Beloved, confidence in your own ability will always come up short. When Peter walked in self-confidence and self-sufficiency, he failed miserably.

You and I aren’t capable of conquering our own flesh, dear one. Peter thought he could. He sincerely believed that no temptation could pull him away from his Lord. After all, He was Peter. The Rock. He had healed the sick and cast out demons. He was part of Christ’s inner circle. He’d walked on water, for crying out loud. Nothing could keep Him from following Jesus.

Nothing, except his own flesh.

Self-sufficiency shifted to self-preservation that made him deny his teacher and friend.

No wonder Jesus told His disciples,

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

Dear one, if you and I don’t deny ourselves, we will end up denying Jesus.

We won’t mean to, but self isn’t capable of following Him with any sustained success. Self-righteousness, self-confidence, and self-will won’t cut it. “With man this is impossible.”

Yet, when Jesus shined a light on Peter’s inadequacy, crushing the illusion that he was capable of fulfilling his calling by his own will and strength, He presented Peter with an opportunity. He could repent of his self-confidence and step into divine power. Peter finally understood the reality of the first portion of Matthew 19:26,“With man this is impossible.” Now he could discover the power of the rest.

“…but with God all things are possible.”

Beloved, you and I must embrace our own inadequacy if we are to discover God’s mighty power. Self-sufficiency only keeps us bound to the world’s limitations. If we will learn to deny ourselves, we can take up the power of the cross. All that it poured out becomes available to us. Forgiveness. Grace. Strength. Love. Restoration.

Perhaps denial isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Self-denial lets go of your limitations, allowing the cross to propel you into Christ’s abundance.

 

Breaking the Power of the Law

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 1 Corinthians 15:56

I wonder if you’ve noticed that the harder you try not to do something, the more you want to.

Anyone who’s ever tried to diet knows what I’m talking about. The more we tell our flesh it can’t have something, the stronger its insistence that we need it.

That’s the nature of sin, dear one.

It sees a boundary and wants to break it. It will push us toward what we want to avoid with increasing strength until finally—exhausted from the battle against our own will—we give in to its call. And our efforts to avoid and delay it only serve to add to our satisfaction when we do.

So many of us have wearied ourselves trying to follow the law of God, but we never discover the capacity to fulfill it. Instead of the victory Scripture promises, we find ourselves caught in a repetitive cycle of stumbling and shame.

I’m about to tell you something that may shock you. It will, however, give you some insight into your frustration. Take another look at the truth found in our opening Scripture.

the power of sin is the law.

Beloved, if you thought the law could keep you from sin, you’re sadly mistaken. Sin actually draws its power from the law. The more we focus on trying to avoid the sin, the stronger it becomes.

Paul explains it further in Romans 7:7-8.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

Verse 5 sums it up nicely.

For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.

Do you see it, dear one? According to Scripture, the law on its own has no power to keep us from sin. On the contrary, it actually arouses and provokes our sin nature to disobedience. As the Word of God calls us into righteousness, our flesh awakens to tighten its grip.

But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me…

Sin already lives within humanity, searching for an expression. God’s commands merely afford it a means to rebel and wound His heart. That’s why we can never be justified by following the law.

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20

God gave the law to expose sin and equip us to make judgments between good and evil, but it holds no power to overcome it. And those who try to follow the law by human effort will surely break it. The more they strive, the greater sin’s power within them will grow.

If we want to live in the victorious promises of God’s Word, we need to recognize this truth.

Law without love creates captives.  

Religion doesn’t save us, dear one. It enslaves. It convinces us to strive after something we can’t attain, and it wearies us under the weight of it. No wonder our enemy loves to shackle believers with religious bondage. Under a strict rule of law that denies love and quenches the Spirit, sin grows in secret. Focusing on the law will only increase its power. The law, without love to fulfill it, actually perpetuates sin.

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Hebrews 10:1

Thank God for Jesus.

Jesus fulfilled the law by pouring out what it lacked. He came as the true form of what the law pointed to, an expression of love, revealing the Father’s heart for us. He entered earth’s atmosphere as the Truth that sets men free.

Because Truth carries more than rules and regulations. It also manifests God’s character. Truth finds love as its source, changing us from the inside out and accessing the grace to live differently. Jesus conquered the power of the law with love, enabling us to fulfill it. 

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:3-5

You don’t need more will-power, dear one. You need love. You need the Spirit of God manifesting within you to release who He is. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-control.

Your victory will come as love increases. Law becomes Truth as we receive God’s heart with it.

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

 

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