Don’t Miss Your Miracle!

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

Sometimes I get frustrated with prayer.

I probably shouldn’t say that. But I’m just being honest. After all, we live in a society of instant gratification. So we get wearied when prayers seem to go unanswered. And our enemy fuels that weariness, feeding our flesh with thoughts of futility.

It’s hard to have faith when we lose hope.

I know you’ve been there. I certainly have. Maybe you’re there right now.

What situation in your life have you labeled hopeless? What have you stopped praying for because you didn’t see God move the way you’d hoped? What if you’ve given up right on the threshold of your blessing?

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

Scripture calls us to pray without ceasing—to continue steadfastly—and to watch for the movement of God with thanksgiving. In other words, never lose hope.

I know. Easier said than done.

Especially when the road is long.

A few months ago, my husband and I met a wonderful Christian couple from Alabama while vacationing. God intersected our paths, and we quickly became friends.

Over the course of the week, we shared our stories and lots of laughter. But I also discovered that a deep pain lurked behind their friendly personalities and bright smiles. One of their daughters had suffered from illness for all of her twelve years.

At birth, because of a hole in her diaphragm, some of her organs weren’t where they should’ve been. Surgery corrected the problem, but it left its mark. Eating remained a constant struggle. Consuming food hurt, so she never wanted to eat. Every meal became a battle. At twelve years old, she weighed only 58 pounds.

Her parents shared stories of God’s faithfulness over the years. Through their hardship, they had been watchful, offering God praise for bringing their daughter through so much.

But they were weary. Twelve years is a long time to watch a loved one suffer. And to experience that suffering yourself as turmoil disrupts your days.

God stirred my heart to pray for our new friends and their daughter. And to rekindle their hope.

We won't believe without hope. Don't let the enemy steal yours. Click To Tweet

After we’d returned home, I was praying for this dear child I’d never met but loved in Jesus’ name. I felt the ache of this family’s twelve years of suffering. And Jesus reminded me of the woman with the issue of blood who had suffered twelve long years. Twelve years of seeking doctors only to worsen. Until one day, Jesus of Nazareth intersected her life and she touched the hem of His garment. Grace poured out from her Savior and healed what doctors could not.

I texted my new friend that April morning to encourage her that I was praying for her, and to share what Jesus had revealed about the woman with the issue of blood. The Spirit stirred my heart that it was time for fresh hope, and I told her I believed Jesus wanted her daughter living free from this burden over food. I would fight the battle with her in prayer.

Just last week I received incredible news from my friend. A new medication has stimulated her daughter’s appetite and she’s eating everything in sight! She has begun to enjoy her food and even tells her parents she’s hungry—something they’d never heard from her before. She’s also gained a few pounds.

Why do we keep praying, beloved? Because God moves through faith. And you never know when God’s perfect timing will intersect your circumstances—and you’ll receive your miracle. Even after 12 long years—or twenty, or thirty.

Which is why our enemy promotes hopelessness. We won’t believe without hope. And we’ll quit praying. So we miss our miracle.

And he [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?  I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8

Beloved, your heavenly Father asks you to consider. If an unrighteous judge will give in to a persistent demand, will not the God who loves you move in answer to your perpetual prayers? He has staked His Word that persistent prayer will move Him, which is precisely why our enemy convinces us to lose hope.

To believe God for something when your circumstances consistently tell you something else requires tremendous faith. And faith is the catalyst that releases the grace of God to pour out salvation (Ephesians 2:8).

So Jesus asks you.

When He looks into your seemingly hopeless situation, will He find faith?

 

No Offense, But…

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12

Have you noticed how easily we get offended?

Honestly, it doesn’t take much. It offends us if the person in the car in front of us drives too slow. Or when the service at a restaurant doesn’t meet our expectations. We even take offense when someone looks at us the wrong way—or doesn’t look at us at all.

Every day we allow grievances to snatch away our peace. Then when something really hurtful happens, we’re undone.

Beloved, Jesus went to the cross to rid us of offense.

Perhaps you’ve never thought of it that way before. But the power of the cross lies in forgiveness, and forgiveness takes no offense.

Jesus showed us what that looked like as He bled for us on the cross.

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

The people screaming, “Crucify Him!” weren’t sorry. They hadn’t apologized. It wasn’t even over. They shouted insults while He bled for them. They celebrated His agony while He struggled to gasp out the words, “Father, forgive them.”

The love released through that act of forgiveness shook the earth and tore the veil. It crumbled the barrier that separated man from God. And it conquered sin and death in man’s heart so love and life could flow in its place—love that empowers, love that redeems, love that transforms and heals.

When we choose offense, we submit to the spirit of the world—of hatred—rather than the Spirit of love Christ poured out. We choose our sin nature instead of Christ’s nature. Jesus always forgives.

1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us love does not insist on its own way, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Hatred keeps that record, dear one. It remembers every offense.

Can you see why God compels us to forgive, dear one? God is love, and love covers all offenses (Proverbs 10:12).

Beloved, you and I have been empowered by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to live driven by Christ’s love rather than sin’s hate. We’ve been given a new nature—Christ’s nature—and that nature offers the power to dramatically change our present circumstances. When walking in that nature, we enjoy the beautiful fruit the Holy Spirit provides.

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

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you love to live each day feeling your heart swell with love and bubble over with joy? Wouldn’t you love the peace of God to wash away your anxiety and worry? Don’t you long to find yourself empowered to patience instead of blowing up at the people you love?

Unfortunately, that isn’t where most of us live. Instead, we far more readily give in to our flesh, spending much of our days tied up in knots, feeling frustrated, angry, depressed, and overcome by the circumstances we find ourselves in. Our families end up baring the brunt of our misery.

What are we missing? Perhaps Matthew 6:14-15 will shed some light on the root of our struggle.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Powerful words. Jesus said if I refuse to forgive others, God won’t forgive me. Let’s put it another way. If I refuse to release others, God doesn’t release me.

No wonder so many of us feel stuck.

Taking offense and harboring bitterness in your heart will keep you from experiencing the grace of forgiveness in your own life. That means the power God offers through forgiveness gets held back, and you feel the weight of the offense you carry.

You may have noticed. Offense imprisons you in darkness.

Dear one, God’s command to forgive those who offend us isn’t about letting them off the hook. It’s about allowing God’s power to continue to flow into our lives. Bitterness blocks the flow of His love, and love empowers everything God does.

You and I don’t deserve forgiveness, dear one. We’re guilty. But Jesus offers it anyway and asks us to receive it by faith.

Yet we struggle to extend that grace others. We want people to earn it. And we won’t offer forgiveness freely because whoever hurt us doesn’t deserve it.

I won’t argue with you. Nobody really deserves forgiveness. The very fact that we need to extend it means that a wrong has taken place.

But God’s not asking us to let people off the hook when He asks us to forgive them. He’s asking us to let Him bear the burden. He’s asking us to trust His promise in Exodus 14:14,

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (NIV)

When we trust God to keep His Word and surrender our bitterness, a beautiful thing happens. He moves on our behalf. And trusting Him accesses the grace of God to provide the fruit of the Spirit in us. Love replaces anger. Joy replaces bitterness. Peace overshadows strife.

Forgive, dear one, so you can be forgiven. Release your captors so that you can live free.

When Favor Brings Opposition

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

 But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9 NIV

 I used to believe that God’s favor meant ease. Then I felt the touch of God’s favor.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade following Jesus for anything. I want to walk in the steps of the God who goes before and experience His presence. And at times I am astounded as I witness His unmistakable hand making the impossible possible.

Yet there are other moments along the journey when difficulties arise that sap my strength. Doubt surfaces, bringing with it a lingering question: Have I stepped out of God’s favor?

Have you ever been there? Have you stepped out in faith, following a prompting God stirred in your heart, only to discover that opposition and difficulty seem to overshadow the favor you thought God had given?

If you have, you’re not alone. Scripture is full of stories of faith heroes that clearly possessed God’s favor yet faced terrible opposition. Nehemiah is one of those heroes.

His story begins with a stirring in his heart for the Jewish remnant returning to Jerusalem after 70 years of Babylonian captivity. He had been told,

Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:3-4

Nehemiah poured out his burden before the Lord, confessing the sins of the people and recalling God’s covenant promises. He finished with these words,

“Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king. Nehemiah 1:11

Nehemiah needed the favor of the king he served in order to return to Jerusalem and fulfill his calling to rebuild the city walls. When the time came to seek that favor, Scripture tells us he “was very much afraid” (Nehemiah 2:2). He had reason to be. The king did not serve Nehemiah’s God and had no reason to want to help Israel—or to release Nehemiah from three years of service to complete the project.

Yet after seeking the Lord, Nehemiah stepped out in faith and asked the king for permission to go. But he didn’t just ask for time off. He asked for letters giving him safe travel and for King Artaxerxes himself to provide materials for the project. Nehemiah should certainly have been executed for such a request, and yet Nehemiah 2:8 reveals,

And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.

 When God’s favor rests upon the head of His own, even a pagan king bows down.

And so Nehemiah set out for Jerusalem—papers in hand—accompanied by army officers and cavalry sent by the king.

Unfortunately, others aren’t always happy to see God’s kingdom advance. As soon as Nehemiah and the Jews began to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, men from surrounding communities who feared Israel regaining strength began to mock and ridicule them.

Still, they worked to rebuild the wall, crying out to God, “Hear us, our God, for we are despised” (Nehemiah 4:4). They managed to rebuild until the wall reached half its height.

Then their opponents plotted to fight against them, so the people prayed to God and posted a guard day and night to meet the threat. Half of the men worked while the others kept watch armed with weapons. Supply transporters even worked with one hand and carried weapons in the other (Nehemiah 4:17). Still, the work progressed.

Then Nehemiah began to help the poor, bringing further opposition. This time they schemed to bring harm to God’s servant another way. They drafted a letter accusing Nehemiah of trying to incite a revolt and proclaim himself king. Now we come to our opening Scripture,

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

 But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9

And God did.

So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two daysWhen all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6:15-16

God’s favor rested upon Nehemiah from beginning to end. His hand never left him, even when he weakened under oppression. The difficulty didn’t mean God’s favor had departed. No. It gave God an opportunity to provide Nehemiah strength in his weakness and became the very thing that proved God’s hand was with him all along.

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Dear one, if opposition comes against you when you set out to answer God’s call, don’t despair that God has abandoned you. He hasn’t. He is faithful to keep His Word no matter how circumstances appear. Opposition often affirms your stance in God’s will and provides an opportunity for Him to reveal His Glory.

And He may just be doing a good work in you in the process.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Do You Seek God’s Heart or His Hand?

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Genesis 15:1 NKJV

Most of us struggle to realize that God Himself is our reward. We long for the things we believe He can give us. After all, we have desperate needs. But we often keep God at a distance.

Ten lepers met Jesus in a village as He journeyed between Samaria and Galilee. Luke 17:12 tells us they stood at a distance as they cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” (verse 13). Jesus responded with an unusual request.

When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. (verse 14)

Place yourself in the scene, dear one. Ten lepers—outcasts because of their condition—had heard about a healer from Nazareth. Hope stirred their weary hearts. Maybe—just maybe—He could fix their problem. If He did what the stories promised He could, their lives would change forever. Healing meant they could reenter society. They’d return to their families.

They would live again.

They weren’t disappointed. Jesus answered their hope with direction. He told them to show themselves to the priests.

That might seem an odd request to you and me, but according to Old Testament Law, lepers could only return to living among their people if the priest declared them clean. By sending the lepers to present themselves to the priest, Jesus had declared their healing.

But I’d like you to notice something. He sent them away before they were healed.

When those ten men departed from Jesus, their skin still oozed from open sores.

And as they went they were cleansed. (verse 14)

Can you even imagine how they must have felt? Still bearing the marks of their defiled condition, they departed from Jesus in obedient faith. With each step toward the priests, they left behind their sickness and moved toward healing. By the time they reached them, they were completely cleansed.

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (verses 15-19)

My heart stirs with the same question Jesus asked that day. Where are the other nine?

Jesus drastically changed the lives of ten men that day, yet only one of them thanked Him. Only one returned to look upon his Savior. Only one fell on his face at Jesus’ feet.

And only one will rise in glory when Christ returns. “… your faith has made you well.”

 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4

Beloved, nine received an external cleansing and were satisfied. Only one believed Jesus worthy of honor for restoring his body, and he received the greater work. Jesus also healed him on the inside.

You see, his position had changed. This Samaritan started out just like all the other lepers. They all stood at a distance (verse 12), crying out to Jesus in desperate physical need. But even after Jesus healed them, the other nine remained there.

Nine had no desire for Jesus’ presence. They just wanted His blessing. They didn’t want Him. So they received their healing and went on their way as though they’d never met Him.

But one couldn’t stay away. With praise on his lips, he immediately turned toward the One who had healed his body. And he offered himself. He fell on his face before Him, close enough to touch His feet. Distance no longer defined his relationship to the Healer. And that made him more than well. It made him whole.

Have you come close to Jesus, dear one? Do you seek His presence? Or do you seek His hand?

Most of us seek God for external works. We want Him to heal our finances, our marriages, our bodies. But we don’t really want Him. We aren’t willing to fall on our faces. We just want to take from His hands and get on with living our lives.

We want what He can do, but we don’t desire Him.

Jesus is the reward, dear one. He’s the treasure. Seek Him as one, beloved, and you’ll experience what the leper did. He will make you well.

 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46

Connections that Cure the Soul

But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. 2 Corinthians 7:6

Do you ever notice that when things aren’t going well we tend to withdraw from the people we love?

Maybe we find we’re too busy to answer the phone. We ignore texts. We’ll cancel the lunch we had looked forward to with a friend.

When we need people the most, we often run from them. Have you ever considered why?

I have a suggestion for you, a reason why our flesh does all it can to convince us to separate from the people who love us. You know who governs your flesh, right? The enemy of your soul. And Jesus plainly revealed the distinct differences between His desires for us and our enemy’s.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

The thief—who has manipulated our flesh since the garden—wants to destroy us. And as he attempts to facilitate that destruction, he isolates us from the people who care about us. He convinces us to withdraw instead of connect.

Why would he do that?

Because God heals our souls through people. And the enemy doesn’t want us whole.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5:16

Beloved, 1 John 1:9 assures us that confessing to God releases forgiveness and cleansing. But James offers another step on our journey to wholeness. God releases healing as we confess and open our hearts to people.

It makes sense when you think about it. God dwells in perfect fellowship with Himself, and He created us in His image. Life flows unhindered through agreement and unity with the Godhead. Disagreement and division sever that flow.

The enemy seeks to separate us from God and one another to block the flow of God’s life and power through His people.

No wonder Jesus asked,

“…that they may be one even as we are one, 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

When people unite in love and godly purpose, God manifests. Jesus said so in Matthew 18:20.

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

God longs for people to unite in Him so that He can make Himself known. Which is why the enemy continually convinces us to separate.

But when we connect with other believers, we experience the grace that flows through divine unity.

Even the apostle Paul needed others to revive his heart.

In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. 2 Corinthians 7:4b-6

I don’t generally think of Paul as a man who struggled with fear. But his own words testify to a season of affliction that left him afraid. Yet God faithfully comforted his downcast soul.

How did He do it? He sent a man. Titus. And Paul experienced this result. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.

Dear one, I don’t pretend to understand all the workings of God and why He does what He does. But I have learned to trust His Word. And His Word tells me that He releases healing through people.

So we have a choice to make. Will we continue to let hardship separate us from the body? Or will we unite and experience Paul’s blessing of overflowing joy in the midst of affliction?

Let me leave you with God’s design for His church.

Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16

Beloved, when each of us grow up in every way in Christ, we carry divine power to grow others. When working properly, we build up and restore.

Love propels us. Love results. And life flows as God manifests.

Whose Image Do You Bear?

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

Why am I here? Every soul seeks an answer to this question. Every heart cries out for purpose. And yet most find the answer elusive. Many live their whole lives without discovering it.

But you don’t have to wait your whole life, beloved. I’m going to tell you today.

You exist to reveal God.

It’s true. God created you to reveal His glory—His very nature. You see, God created man and woman to reveal who He is.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” Genesis 1:27-28

Beloved, when God repeats Himself, He wants us to take notice. God blessed mankind to multiply and fill the earth with all that He is.

We were supposed to reveal His image, dear one. His love. His joy. His peace. His patience. His gentleness. His faithfulness. His kindness. His goodness. His self-control. His unity. His life.

God created man as an earthly expression of who He is. The same oneness shared by Father, Son and Holy Spirit joined man with God in beautiful fellowship. And life flowed unhindered on earth through our perfect union with our Creator.

Until the serpent slithered into Eden and convinced Adam and Eve to separate from God by disobeying His word. Man exchanged truth for deception, and our enemy planted a new seed—the seed of sin— in man’s heart. That new seed changed the fruit we produce. Now, instead of revealing God’s character, we display His enemy’s nature.

Beloved, the fruit of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)—given by God to nourish, grow, and produce abundant life—has been replaced by sin’s fruit.

  • Love became selfishness that bred hate.
  • Sorrow overtook our joy.
  • Instead of peace, we naturally worry.
  • Instead of patience, anger erupts.
  • In place of kindness, we hurt people.
  • Evil has overrun goodness.
  • Faithfulness withers into doubt.
  • Harshness crushes gentleness, and self-control is all but lost.

God’s image on earth has been overshadowed, beloved. Instead of mankind revealing God’s loving and giving nature, we bear our enemy’s self-centered one. And devastation increases as God’s blessing over man proves itself.

You see, when God speaks, nothing can render His Word void. And God blessed man to bear fruit, multiply, and fill the earth.

So man continues to bear fruit. And that fruit multiplies and increases. But instead of giving and sustaining life in God’s image, the fruit man produces destroys it.

We see the evidence of sin’s increasing nature as violence becomes commonplace in our world. Hatred divides and separates, and terror claims innocent lives with growing frequency.

Mankind reveals our enemy’s nature with increasing measure.

But here’s the good news. God didn’t leave us alone to reap the consequences of our sin. He sent Jesus to conquer the sin in man’s heart through the cross and restore us to God’s image.

Beloved, Jesus enabled us,

…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Christ has empowered us to fulfill our true purpose. We can once again reveal God’s image. Jesus restored our ability to produce godly fruit that reveals God’s character.

Beloved, only the church can counter evil’s rise on earth. Believers must submit to God’s Spirit within them and fill the earth with God’s image. His nature displaying itself on earth produces life and peace.

Only the church can counter evil's rise on earth. Let Jesus reveal His image in you. Click To Tweet

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

I have to ask, dear one. Whose image do you bear? Does the fruit your heart produces resemble God’s character? Or are you still overcome by selfishness, worry, anger, and sorrow?

Christ endured the cross to make your heart love again. He suffered so you could be healed. He gave you His own peace to ease your worry.

Do you experience His gifts of grace? Or have you rejected them in favor of your old nature?

Living from your old nature will only cost you, beloved. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. Jesus came to restore you to life.

Don’t live the rest of your life in the desert, dear one. Let God show you who you really are. As you step into your redeemed nature, the life of God will manifest though you. And you will show the world who He is.

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. Ephesians 1:16-19

Know who you are, beloved, so you can show the world who God is.

Are We “Doing” Church so Well that We’ve Missed “Being” the Church?

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Last Thursday, my husband boarded a plane with our oldest son to take him to Dallas, TX. Steve returned home on Friday. Austin will remain in God’s hands for the next two weeks sharing the Gospel with strangers. I expect when he returns home, he will be changed.

God has planted a seed in our son’s heart to bring revival to his campus and our community. He heard about a movement happening in Dallas, and asked us if he could go serve. He wanted to step in faith beyond his comfort to reach out to people with Christ’s love, and he wanted to learn from the team working there so he could bring the knowledge back and let God use him to ignite revival here.

God is revealing Himself in Dallas-Fort Worth, dear one. The harvest is plentiful, and in an unprecedented coalition of over 300 churches bridging denominations, the workers are not few. The Acts church rises in their midst, laying down laws for love and walking out the Gospel’s call to go and make disciples.

A woman participating in the outreach posted this letter last week. I pray that God uses it to help blind eyes see and empower the lame in our churches to start walking.

 

Friday, May 12, 2017

My Repentance Letter – #ReviveTX

Dear Church –

When I was an 18-year-old Bible school student, I stopped one day by the prompting of the Holy Spirit at a flower stand, and after about an hour of loving, listening, discerning, and responding, I led a French international student to Jesus. I will never forget that moment. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life, because I had just reproduced the Kingdom for the first time.

Fast forward over twenty years and I am still passionate for Jesus. I pursue Jesus and I ask God daily to keep me hungry for Him. Most people in my life know that about me – I am the same person everywhere I go.

I can read off all of my accomplishments – I have run small businesses, I have had favor in politics, led worship for years and wrote songs, given sacrificially into the Kingdom of God, been passionate about foreign missions, ministered in Romania and Guatemala, wrote discipleship books, and planted a house church with my husband – but yet I can only count on two hands the amount of people that I have actually led to Jesus in AMERICA in the last twenty years since I was that 18 year old Bible school student.

I have talked more ABOUT lost humanity – than I have talked TO lost humanity.

I have talked more about evangelism, discipleship, and church planting than I have actually evangelized, discipled, and church planted.

I say that I am a missionary to America – speaking into the lives of amazing elected officials and impacting our nation, yet rarely do I ever go as far as to make sure that people are really born again.

I have been a woman pursuing Jesus and first century Christianity, but there has been a disconnect in my heart toward what He really cares most about – the lost sheep walking about me in my city and my nation every day.

In the last three weeks, only going out three days with Revive Texas, I have been a part of leading 10 people to Jesus – 6 of those saying YES to Jesus for the VERY first time. Three of these people said to me or our team that they had NEVER heard this simple gospel before. They had never read “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…” They have never heard that “God demonstrated His love toward us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

I am still in shock at the magnitude of the harvest that is ready in our city and the disconnect that we, the church, have had to go after the harvest. I led a precious lady to Jesus at the gas station by my office on Wednesday just because I took off work to share my faith.

I repent before you today that I have prayed for revival but never fully understood what I was praying for.

I have prayed passionately for the church to be ONE in the spirit of John 17, but never really understood the full purpose of why that was important.

I repent that my eyes have not seen the thousands of people around me in DFW that have NEVER heard the good news that I say I can’t live without.

I am sorry that even in the midst of helping pastor a house church and being a part of the house church movement that desires and teaches the Acts 2 lifestyle that I, in reality, wasn’t living out Acts 2 day to day – seeing people “added to the church daily.”

Friends, I am sorry that I have not led you toward the harvest that is so ripe. It is a beautiful harvest right here in front of us, but yet I didn’t see it. I didn’t really see it.

My life has been radically changed in the last 25 days and I want you to know that I will never be the same again.

My eyes are now wide open, and by the grace of God, they will not be closed again.

The simple Christianity that I have always yearned for and desired – for over twenty years – has been placed before me in the form of a colorful wristband and a colorful Bible.

I am forever thankful to Kyle & Laura Martin, all the missionaries with Time to Revive that have invaded our city, and the local people who I have walked with the last 25 days who are saying “yes” to Jesus. The seeds of revival are being planted in Dallas-Fort Worth and a prophetic voice has come to town, and as for me – I am asking God to give me ears to hear.

My heart will never recover from this move of God and on day 51 of Revive Texas, June 5th (when the 50 days are officially over), my eyes will still be looking for the harvest.

I know that because this is real repentance.

The Bible says that when we confess our sins to one another that we will be healed. Thank you for hearing my confession and being a witness to my healed heart.

I love you all.

Bunni Pounds
Reality Community

Original Post

For more information about Revive Texas – go to www.revivetx.org.

Would God Curse His Treasured Possession?

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

Scripture calls you a priest of God, dear one. Do you think of yourself that way? Do you even know what it means?

Peter’s words in our opening scripture echo God’s to Moses in Exodus 19:5-6.

“’Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

From the beginning, God has sought to create for Himself a kingdom of priests. Perhaps you noticed the contingency mentioned in verse 5. If. We tend to treat God’s promises as though they’re all automatic. I think God would like us to notice our role in bringing them to fruition.

if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples.

 I can’t help thinking of God’s words over Jesus on the mount of transfiguration.

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” Luke 9:35

Throughout scripture, God promises blessing to those who listen to Him. And Jesus came as the Word made flesh, calling all people to follow Him. Those truths leave me struggling to understand how so many professing Christians believe we can ignore God’s Word and still expect His blessing,

We shout grace as our justification.  We’re taught that God treasures and loves us regardless of how we behave. We are, after all, His royal priesthood, saved by grace.

But God declared this message to His priests in Malachi 2.

“And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Verses 1-2

I’m guessing those verses might make you a little uncomfortable. We don’t want to picture our God of grace cursing the blessings of His own people. And yet, there it is in black and white. God disciplines His children who refuse to listen to Him. When we reject His Word, we reject His blessing.

Dear one, we cannot separate the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Right here in the book of Malachi, God confirms His unchanging nature.

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:6-7

God’s blessing departs from His people when we cease to honor and obey His Word. But He also promises that whenever we repent and return to Him, the blessing that flows from Him will return to us.

Like in the days of Malachi, God calls us to return to the sanctity of our covenant with Him. He describes that covenant with His original priest, Levi, in Malachi 2:5-6.

My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name.  True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.

Behold the true priest of the Word, dear one. Humbled by the awe of God, he fears Him and lives his life according to His Word. Life and peace follow him, because God is near. God’s Word is in his mouth and on his tongue, and he turns many from their sin.

Do those words describe you, dear one? Do the Father’s eyes rest upon you with joy because your life reveals your position in His kingdom of priests?

For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. Verse 7

Blessing flows to the one who hears the Word of the Lord and follows.

Lord, empower us to live worthy of the calling we have received. You have consecrated us, sanctified us, and set us apart for your kingdom purpose. Forgive us for living for ourselves instead of for You. Ignite Your Word in our hearts and give us the faith to live by it, turning many from iniquity. May we stand in awe of You, living lives that reveal Your glory.

Dear Father, raise Your kingdom of priests.

You Were Made for Glory

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60:1-2

Glory. It’s one of those words we talk about in church but don’t fully understand. In our human experience, glory represents fame and importance. Renown. And we spend much of our time on this earth fighting for glory that belongs to God.

But glory comprises more than honor and distinction. It also reveals itself through magnificent, radiant beauty. Like the glory revealed in creation, or the dazzling, pure light emanating from our Creator Himself.

Renown. Magnificence. Radiant beauty. Glory.

So what do you think God means when He declares,

“…bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6b-7

In these verses, God issues a call to gather His children—every individual who bears His Name. He reveals His purpose in verse 7: whom I created for my glory.

God formed you, beloved—knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)—with a singular purpose, one the enemy of our souls works diligently to keep hidden. God created you for glory.

I imagine you’ve felt the longing for significance common to all mankind. We desire purpose. We want to be valued, to feel important. We long to be seen and understood. Whether we willingly admit it or not, our hearts long for glory.

And scripture is clear. God created you for glory. But not your glory, dear one. His. God created you to be a dwelling place for His glory.

Consider Jesus’ prayer to His Father right before His arrest and death on a cross.

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.” John 17:22

Beloved, Jesus has shared His glory with you. The same glory that the Father bestowed on Christ, He gave to us.

Hebrews 1:3 describes Jesus’ glory.

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

Child of God, the radiance of God’s glory—the exact imprint of His nature—now dwells within you. Jesus gave it to you when you put your faith in Him. God has given you His own glory, so that you can reveal who He is.

But look at what Jesus linked to that glory: Unity.

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 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

I wonder if you caught the significance of verse 23. God gave us His glory, “… that they may become perfectly one.”

Perfect unity seems an impossible goal. I guess it’s a good thing God specializes in making impossible things possible (Matthew 19:26).

I’m going to take Jesus’ words a step further. Perfect unity within the body of Christ isn’t just possible. It’s inevitable. Why? Because Jesus always prays according to the Father’s will, so He always gets what He asks for. Christ’s church will rise in perfect unity before the end, revealing the glory Jesus gave us. The only question remaining is which generation of believers will experience that promise.

I know one thing. God’s glory won’t become evident while believers seek their own. The world will see it as individuals embrace their true purpose and commit their lives to God’s. We must stop seeking to position ourselves in prominent places and allow Jesus to position us in the place He chose for us.

Beloved, the church is God’s present dwelling place on earth,

… built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:20-22

Scripture teaches that,…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you…” (1 Corinthians 6:19). But I need you to notice something. God’s house grows into a holy temple as it’s joined together. Each person carrying the Spirit is merely a piece of the greater structure. When we allow the Spirit to build us together into God’s dwelling place, glory will fill the temple.

Look what happened when God’s last earthly house was completed.

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3

When glory filled the temple, the people watching knew two things.

God is here.

God loves.

Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane echoes that result, “that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

You were made for glory, beloved. God has given you His glory through your faith in His Son. Now He wants to position you in your place in His house, connected to and supporting other believers on every side. When He finishes building, His glory will once again fill His earthly temple.

And the world will know that He is God.

Why Does God Allow Pain?

For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. Isaiah 35:6

Last October, I found myself in another hospital waiting room. My husband had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. He couldn’t walk or drive for 6 weeks. You don’t plan for these things. They just happen.

Sometimes they happen more frequently than others.

When I look over the last year, I can’t help thinking of how many precious family members and other loved ones have spent hours and days in hospital rooms. I have been fortunate enough to just take up space in the waiting areas. While my heart aches for them, these people I love have felt it physically.

Pain. Nausea. Discomfort. Weakness. Weariness. Fear.

In those moments of heartache and pain, we naturally grasp for an answer to a tiny yet profound question. Why?

And in this world where Christianity is often touted as a direct link to blessing and prosperity, believers can be tempted to doubt God’s promises.

I get it. I’ve been there myself, wondering if God’s Word could really be true—wondering how a loving God could allow hard things like pain, suffering, and loss.

But I’d like to take a few moments to look at difficulty from God’s perspective.

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. Philippians 1:29

Beloved, scripture teaches that sometimes God grants you— and me—the gift of suffering. As a believer, a son or daughter—heir of the kingdom—God has chosen you for suffering.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:16-17

Dear one, with or without Christ, this world produces suffering. But in Christ our suffering has purpose. Suffering with Him provides the means to establish us in our inheritance—to take hold of the promises available to us in Christ as co-heirs of all that God has given us.

You see, our promises aren’t just meant for heaven. We’re supposed to experience them here. And adversity provides the opportunity for us to do that.

Stick with me here. Ephesians 1:3 promises that God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” But God wants those blessings lived out “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). He wants our heavenly position to be evident on earth as He reveals His glory through us.

God’s glory becomes evident when we do what Jesus did: We face our spiritual enemy on earth and overcome.

Beloved, every spiritual blessing available to us in Christ remains a theory if we don’t grab hold of it and use it. Our trials provide an opportunity to prove our heavenly position and manifest our blessings on earth.  We conquer fear when we face it and choose faith in spite of it. We’ll only experience the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) when we face circumstances that rob our peace.

Our suffering allows us to live out the promise of John 16:33.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Everyone will hurt and suffer in this life. But in Christ, God has granted us a glorious opportunity! In our struggles, we can draw on our heavenly inheritance and overcome, putting our enemy firmly under our feet.

David offers a good example of this in scripture. The Philistine army had the Israelites trembling in fear because of Goliath. The giant defied their God and challenged a man to fight him. If he won, Israel would serve the Philistines.

But David knew the Word of the Lord. Intimately. He knew the inheritance available to him as a child of God. So, he didn’t let the appearance of his circumstances overpower him. He drew on God’s promises, faced Goliath head on, and established his spiritual promise of victory as his earthly reality. (See 1 Samuel 17)

Our opening scripture reveals an important truth: living water bursts forth in desert places. If God has allowed suffering in your life, dear one, it isn’t because He has abandoned you or doesn’t love you. He has provided an opportunity for you to take hold of your inheritance and live it out on this earth.

Suffering provides an opportunity to release our spiritual blessings in the earthly realm. Click To Tweet

Without the suffering of this past year, I would never have experienced the miracle of His peace. I would not have recognized the selfishness still rooted in my heart, and I wouldn’t have learned how to pray from my inheritance in Christ and see heaven move. I wouldn’t have known the joy of my Comforter, or watched spiritual chains fall from my loved ones.

God is for you, beloved. He has granted suffering as an opportunity to experience His presence and witness glory. And when glory reveals itself, suffering fades. And you experience the wonder of resurrection life.