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The Power of Gratitude

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Sometimes gratitude hurts.

Life isn’t always kind, and when we find ourselves struggling over circumstances we wouldn’t choose, we don’t naturally feel grateful. In fact, we tend to get angry. Even bitter.

Yet our opening scripture suggests that God desires for us to give thanks in all circumstances. Every one. That includes the good and the bad.

This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, beloved. Gratitude.

 Why would gratitude be so important to God? Perhaps the next verse offers some insight.

Do not quench the Spirit. Verse 19 

Ingratitude stops the flow of the Spirit, hindering God’s work in our midst. Praise and thanksgiving, on the other hand, release God’s Spirit to move.

Ingratitude stops the flow of the Spirit in our lives. Gratitude releases it. Click To Tweet

You see, thanksgiving carries us into His presence.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! Psalm 100:4

When we choose gratitude—even when we’re hurting or don’t understand our present circumstances—we choose to enter into God’s goodness. That choice—to focus on what is good instead of what’s presently lacking—removes the enemy’s power and invites God in. You see, perspective is everything.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22

According to Jesus, how we view something directly relates to what we experience in our body. The light we long for comes from seeing with a healthy perspective. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When we view things through a faulty lens—the lens of negativity—our body takes on the darkness of our wrong perspective. It actually gives the enemy a position of power in our lives—and permission to torment us.

“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Matthew 6:23

I wonder, dear one, if you wrestle with the pull of the darkness in your own life. Hopelessness, anxiety, and depression are crippling lives in greater measure than we’ve ever seen, particularly within the body of Christ.

Yet we have this promise about our Savior,

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5  

Do you want to live the overcoming promises of God’s Word, beloved? Do you want to dwell in the power of the light? Choose gratitude. Find something to be thankful for, and dwell on that. Let your lips offer a sacrifice of praise, especially during times of sorrow. You will discover that gratitude ushers you into the presence of God.

I’ve watched this happen in the life of my mother-in-law over the last couple of years.

Pain in her body has kept her from doing many of the things she loves to do. She spends most of her days at home. Hurting. But I have watched a sweet peace fall over her, as she’s chosen not to dwell on what she’s lost, but rather all that she has.

She tells me, “I have so much time, time to think of all the blessings God has given me. My beautiful family. His faithfulness to us.”

And I’ve watched a beautiful miracle unfold through her. You see, the presence of God falls on her and flows through her when she speaks. A friend of mine visited her recently wanting to encourage her. Instead, she was profoundly blessed by the encouragement she received! God’s presence flowed to my friend and lifted her own weary heart.

Why? Because my mother-in-law has spent the last years dwelling in the courts of her King. Her gratitude ushered her through His gates, allowing Him to minister to her soul. And that allows Him to show up without her even trying. Her heart is already engaged with His, and He’s right there, ready to give.

When our hearts stay engaged with God's Spirit, He shows up without our even trying. Click To Tweet

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving season, I wonder if we can go a little deeper. Beyond pumpkins and lovely wooden signs declaring thanks, what if we engaged our hearts? Let’s fill our bodies with light as we look at our lives through the lens of gratitude and declare our thanks to the Giver of every good gift.

As you enter His courts with your praise, He may just surprise you.

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Dangerous Signs and Wonders

How great are His signs, how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion endures from generation to generation. Daniel 4:3

We live in a time of glorious awakening! More and more people have opened their hearts to believe that Christianity is supposed to be much more than doctrines and creeds. Jesus brought heaven to earth, and He wants to teach us to live the promises of His kingdom.

1 Corinthians 4:20 sums it up nicely, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.”

If our Christianity remains theories and arguments, we’ve missed the mark, dear one. By a lot.

If our Christianity remains theories and arguments, we've missed the mark. Click To Tweet

Our opening Scripture reveals some of what Christ’s kingdom brings. Great signs and mighty wonders! Dominion that never ends. These signs have marked God’s movement through every generation as God brought deliverance to His people, proving His might.

But a problem arises when we set our sights on these great demonstrations of power to prove and assure ourselves that God is in our midst.

Our enemy can also perform them.

Consider Jesus’ warning to His Disciples while preparing them for the last days.

“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24

Does that surprise you, dear one?

As darkness increases in the last days, people will look to power beyond themselves to survive. They will need to, as hopelessness rises and recognition dawns that this fight is beyond their power to win. And when desperation sends them searching, our enemy stands ready to serve them what they think they need— a counterfeit version to keep them from the real Deliverer who can save them.

Satan will offer the anti-Christ to the world as a suitable savior to draw hearts away from Jesus. He will deceive many because he will not be impotent. He comes with power of his own.

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

Believers will have to know the true, beloved, to be able to recognize the deception.

We must know what is true to be able to recognize deception. Click To Tweet

But one type of power can’t be manipulated or copied. It has only one Source and can’t be replicated…nor would our enemy want it to be. And that’s the power Jesus came to reveal above all.

Love’s power to heal and transform the human soul.

Oh, dear one, this is the wonder that we must elevate and applaud in our days! Love expressing itself through redeemed humanity. With the cross of Christ, God’s work turned inward, releasing the enemy’s hold on our hearts and restoring us to God’s own nature. Manifesting that nature in once broken people reveals the authority God carries.

You see, our enemy can duplicate outward signs and wonders. He’s been doing it from the beginning. Even when Moses confronted Pharoah to deliver God’s people from Egypt, he met God’s signs with a powerful demonic response.

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. 12 For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. Exodus 7:10-12a

Pharoah’s sorcerers were able to imitate what God had done. God still had the last word, however, proving His enduring dominion with the rest of verse 12, “But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.”

Demonic power remains as real and tangible today. So does God’s authority over it. They do not possess equal power. God still reigns supreme. And the answer to our victory lies at the very core of who God is. Love.

The miracle this world desperately needs to witness and experience is love.

Jesus told us what distinguishes His true disciples from all the rest.

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

Love reveals God at work in our midst, dear one. He is love, and real love has no other source. Love helps. It forgives. It keeps no record of wrongs. It never insists on its own way. It’s patient and kind. It believes, hopes, and endures. It cannot fail.

Love freely expressed within the body will usher in Satan’s defeat. This sign alone will pronounce to our enemy that his end is imminent. Transformed hearts uniting in Kingdom love and purpose will devour him, revealing what he truly is in the face of God’s pure, undefiled love.

Impotent.

It is God's pure and undefiled love that defeats the enemy. Click To Tweet

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Do You Know What You Carry?

“For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Mark 4:25

I recently shared a little piece of my journey with you. After an amazing encounter with Jesus, I discovered my heart resisted what God showed me about myself. Instead of embracing His beautiful truth, something deep inside kept insisting on a lesser version.

And that’s precisely the result our enemy hopes to achieve, dear one. If he can convince us to continue to live in our brokenness instead of Christ’s provision for us, he can hinder God’s movement through us. Only faith unleashes the power of God’s promises. If you and I want to see God revealed in our midst, we need to know what He says about us.

Only faith unleashes the power of God's promises. #FaithUnleashesPower Click To Tweet

We need to understand what we carry.

I’m reminded of a story involving Peter and John in Acts 3. As they headed into the temple at the hour of prayer, a man who had been lame from birth asked them for money. Peter responded with something the man did not expect.

And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”  And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. Acts 3:4-5

I wonder how many times the man had lived this very scene. Verse 2 reveals that he was carried and laid daily at the temple gate to ask for alms. I imagine the monotony of the routine left him with little expectation. How many temple visitors passed by pretending not to see him? Still others may have tossed him a coin without ever actually looking at his face.  

And yet this day, Peter and John looked right at him, asking him to do the same. “Look at us.” Their response got his attention, stirring the lame man’s heart with hopeful expectation. Surely these two would provide him something.

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Acts 3:6-7

I can only imagine what the man must have thought in that life-changing moment. He extended his hand to receive coins from a stranger. Instead, the hand he reached toward raised him to his feet.  And immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

Most of us can’t remember our first steps. This man, lame from birth, would never forget his.

And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:8-10

I think we could use a little wonder and amazement, don’t you? Wouldn’t you love to see Jesus revealing Himself powerfully in our midst? I believe that’s something He longs to give.

You see, Hebrews 13:8 declares simply,

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Jesus hasn’t changed, dear one. If our experience has changed since He first birthed His church, that only leaves one explanation. We’ve changed.

Take a look at Peter’s words when he addressed the crowd to reveal the power behind this miraculous healing.

And His name [Jesus]—by faith in His name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. Acts 3:16

Faith in the name of Jesus gave an invalid perfect health. Legs that had never stood before lifted him to his feet. Muscles that should have atrophied from years without use carried him into the temple. And he didn’t just walk. He leapt! 

What had been dead came alive, all because of faith. Sounds like the Gospel message to me.

Faith brings life. #GospelMessage Click To Tweet 

But whose faith, dear one?

This part of the story intrigues me the most. You see, it wasn’t the faith of the lame man that ushered in his miracle. It was Peter’s faith that produced a work of God on his behalf.

I can’t seem to let go of Peter’s words to the lame beggar.

“I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

Peter knew what he had.

He knew exactly who he was and what was available to him in Jesus. And he knew he was free to give it. He didn’t define himself by his mistakes or limit his possibilities by his past. He believed what Jesus said about him, and his belief poured out blessing on a man who had no faith.

I wonder, dear one. Have we limited God’s power on earth because we refuse to see ourselves as the people God says we are? Is Jesus simply waiting for us to embrace what He says we carry?

Perhaps it’s a good time to revisit our opening scripture.

“For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Mark 4:25 

Jesus repeats those words five times in the four gospels. [See Matthew 13:12, Matthew 25:29, Mark 4:25, Luke 8:18, and Luke 19:26]  I think He may be trying to get our attention.

At first glance Jesus’ words appear confusing. How can God take something from someone with nothing?  

Take a look at His words again. 

From the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

What if Jesus’ words reveal that this man’s problem isn’t really that he didn’t have, but rather that he didn’t acknowledge and use what he had? The consequences are clear. If we don’t use it, we lose it.

You and I need to know what we have, dear one.

Let’s stop allowing unbelief to quench the Spirit of God. It’s not our place to tell God how He should move. He manifests His Spirit through each of us as He chooses (1 Corinthians 12:11). But if He’s going to release His work through you, He will require something of you.

A little faith.

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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.

 

Would You Let God Birth a Miracle Through You?

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38

We all want to witness miracles.

We want God to wow us with wonder like He did so many times in scripture. And let’s be honest. We really just wish God would show up and prove Himself.

So we cry out for miracles.

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 NIV

Yes, we want the miracles. We just don’t want what God requires of us to release them.

Faith.

I’m not talking about a theory of faith. We’ll grab hold of that easily enough.

No, I’m talking about hitting the pavement with it. Living faith that defies difficulty. That stretches and grows us. Faith that believes an unbelievable promise, then holds onto it no matter what.

Do you have that kind of faith, beloved? Do you take God at His Word, no matter how crazy it sounds? Because that’s the only way you and I will ever witness miracles.

We need to trust God’s Word more than we value our comfort.

We need to trust God’s Word more than we value our comfort. #Heplanstoprosperyou Click To Tweet

I wonder if you’ve thought much about Mary’s response to the angel who had just informed her she would give birth to God’s own son. “Let it be to me according to your word.”

 Really? Is that how you would’ve responded?

Let’s forget for a moment that we know how it all works out and slip our feet into Mary’s sandals. She was just an ordinary girl, planning a wedding with the man of her dreams.

I wonder how many times she had imagined her wedding day. Would she wear flowers in her hair? Did she help her mother design her dress? I imagine she dreamed of a beautiful gathering with family and friends offering warm smiles and supportive hugs.

Then a messenger appeared with news of a very different dream.

A baby. Before her wedding day.

In this new dream, her husband wouldn’t father her firstborn child. She would face ridicule and judgment. She might even lose the husband her dreams encircled.

Yet when an angel of the Lord appeared to her declaring that God had chosen her to mother the Son of God Himself, she said,

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Amazing. Mary simply believed God, and that was enough for her. She was an ordinary woman who set her heart toward godly purpose. God’s Word became more important than her comfort and ease. More powerful than doubt, ridicule, shame, or loneliness.

She believed God, and trusted that His plan was the very best for her.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Mary’s belief invited God’s seed to create life in her womb. And God would use this ordinary girl as a vessel through whom He would bring about His plan of redemption for the world.

Do you think she found it worth it, beloved? When she finally looked into the face of the miracle she had carried within her for nine long months, do you think she felt regret?

I don’t, dear one. My guess is one emotion consumed her. Love. She gazed into Love’s face and held Him in her arms. I imagine she wept with wonder.

But then her miracle asked more of her. More surrender. More sacrifice.

One day hatred would tear her Son from her. The man He would become would hang before her, bloodied and beaten on a wooden cross.

Her child that kings had worshipped with gifts of gold would become the sacrificial Lamb. And Mary would receive her greatest miracle. Eternal life.

Will you trust God to work miracles through your life, beloved? Will you trust even when you don’t understand? Would you believe the blessing overshadows the cost?

Mary believed.

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. Luke 1:45

Have You Opened Your Gifts From Jesus?

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

I trust by now you’ve had your fill of Thanksgiving leftovers. And now, I’m guessing that ornaments, evergreens, and sparkling lights are quickly replacing any decorative pumpkins and fall leaves. I’m excited to share that my own home has begun its holiday transformation.

December ushers in one of my very favorite seasons. Christmas has filled my heart with wonder for as long as I can remember. When we hung the lights, and holly and evergreens made their way inside our home, the joy that flickered deep within told me that this time of year was special. Christmas simply felt different than the rest of the year.

As a child I looked forward to it with great anticipation. I loved the family gatherings that accompanied Christmas, complete with caroling, special foods, and holiday smells. But nothing inspired quite as much awe as the sight of the gifts spilling out from under the tree.

Lots of extended family gathered in our home for Christmas, and large numbers of people meant a large number of gifts! Packages and ribbons beckoned our exploration, and I joined my brothers to examine the nametags, searching for the owner of each new possession. Joy would ripple through me when I found my name. This one’s for me.

And hope would rise to the surface. Perhaps this is the one I have been waiting for!

Do you remember how it felt to experience Christmas with the heart of a child, dear one? Can you recall the sensation of sugarplums dancing in your belly, a delightful mingling of anticipation and hope?

For many of us, routine has replaced much of the marvel of the holidays. And let’s be honest; the work often overshadows the wonder! Many have even lost the thrill of surprise on Christmas morning, having purchased and wrapped the gifts bearing their name beneath the tree with their own hands.

And Jesus, the One whom we gather to celebrate, is almost forgotten, worked into our festivities with brief mentions and a visit to church on Christmas Eve.

Perhaps we have been missing something.

I’d love for you to entertain this thought with me. What if Christmas still holds something worth anticipating? What if its offer of joy, hope, and wonder extends to more than just children? What if you and I could experience that child-like awe as we unwrap the gifts the Christ-child came to bring?

Consider Jesus’ words to His disciples during His earthly ministry:

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3

Do you have a child-like heart, beloved?

Jesus said that unless we approach Him with the heart of a child, we will miss His kingdom. He wasn’t just referring to the eternal kingdom He will establish when He returns. He was also warning us that we can miss the kingdom blessings we’re supposed to experience on this earth until He does.

Jesus came to the earth to draw us to Him in divine relationship and reveal the glory of what’s to come. He came so people like you and me could know Him and experience a foretaste of heaven.

Have you tasted it, dear one? You’re meant to!

What if we tried a new approach this Christmas? What if we choose to see Jesus as the all-surpassing gift scripture claims He is? What if we open our hearts to believe like little children and take a chance on believing God for more?

Let’s invite the wonder of Christmas to return! Gifts bearing your name await your attention under the tree. Jesus invites you to explore them so you can claim them as your own.

This one’s for me.

What gift do you need to open, beloved? Healing. Restoration. Redemption. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Power. Purpose.

And Jesus said to him, “‘… All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23

‘Tis the season for believing, dear one.

Allow your heart to open with the wonder of an expectant child. Approach Jesus with hope and anticipation.

Beloved, Jesus holds the gifts you’ve been searching for all your life.

We Only Have One Savior

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. Daniel 2:20-21

America has spoken. So has the God who holds America.

Beloved, God alone sets up and removes kings and presidents. And according to His purpose, He has positioned Donald Trump in the White House. Time will reveal whether God intends to bless our nation through this choice.

Yet my heart is filled with hope, because God’s Word rings true.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

This nation has united in prayer this past year unlike any time I have known. God’s people have answered His call to bend the knee, and now we have an opportunity to see some real change. We must continue to pray with the same fervor.

Donald Trump is not our Savior. The God who got him elected is. And for God’s redemptive purposes to prevail, we must choose to stand united with the God who made us, boldly living His Word and proclaiming His Truth. Love must flow from our hearts instead of judgment. We must unite in the Name that is above every name. Jesus.

And pray.

The river of life must flow through His people to heal our land. Healing comes through the Healer.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;

God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. …

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:1-7, 10

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