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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.

 

Daring to Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fun times.

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

No, my childhood Christmas sugarplums came from the presents.

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

So we did.

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

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

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

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

You bought that lottery ticket.

You went after that promotion.

You opened your heart to love.

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

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

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

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

Or maybe Jesus Himself seems to have disappointed you.

Yet Romans 5:5 makes a bold claim.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it’s guaranteed not to disappoint.

 

God is Doing a New Thing!

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

Hello, dear one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reveal Christ.

Live Truth.

Love People.

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

And love.

Really love.

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

Why?

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

But it must be given. Freely.

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

Like Jesus did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reveal Christ. Live Truth. Love People

It will change everything.

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

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

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

When God Says Rest

When God Says Rest

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

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

“God says rest.”

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

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

“It’s deeper. It’s deeper than that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They’ll witness glory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus spoke of Sabbaths in Mark 2:27.

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

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

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

I look forward to watching Him bring His harvest.

When Praying for Something Costs You

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

I. Love. Cheese.

Passionately. Cheddar. Asiago. Parmesan. I’ve always lived by the mantra that cheese makes everything better. Especially when melted.

Until recently, that is. A surprise autoimmune diagnosis this summer after several weeks of not feeling well stole dairy from my life in one shocking moment of disbelief in a doctor’s office. I wish I could say that was all. Hopelessness began descending like a heavy weight as the doc ran down the list of things I couldn’t eat while we try to reset my digestive system so my immune system stops attacking me.

Essentially, I’m allowed to eat meat, fruits and vegetables. Oh, and nuts. The doc was kind enough to throw nuts back in the mix, removing them from the off-limits list after a glance at me. Apparently, he has a soft spot for women on the verge of tears.

I think perhaps we all go through times when life seems to throw one curveball after another. This has been one of those seasons. And dealing with loss, two cancer diagnoses, ministry challenges, and hurting children seems a little easier with comfort food.

I’ll admit I gave in momentarily to that inner dialog that occurs when something doesn’t seem fair. I already eat far better than my immediate family members. I exercise regularly. Logic says this shouldn’t be happening to someone who tries to take good care of her temple.

But suddenly I find myself in a place where God is requiring more. And when I first heard the news, I wasn’t sure I wanted to give it.

Who wants to give up cookies, brownies and ice cream? Or even mashed potatoes, for crying out loud? And let’s not forget the cheese.

But even before I met with God in prayer to begin to sort all this out, I knew. He was in this. This filtered into my life from His own hand. You see, I’ve been asking Him for something for several years. Something I prayed with bold faith and expectation. This broken vessel has been crying out to God to manifest the work of the cross in my life. I have repeatedly asked Him to empower me live the promise of Galatians 2:20.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The crucifixion of our flesh is something we like in theory but rarely care for practically. It’s one of those themes in scripture we often skirt around. We may have the guts to crucify things we view as big, obvious sin. But what about those things that don’t appear to us as sin at all? What about things that may even appear good to us but somehow hinder the race He’s called us to run (Hebrews 12:1)?

I have repeatedly asked Jesus to put to death every bit of my flesh that resists Him. I want His Spirit to reign over every part of me. And I believed my words as I proclaimed these desires to the Savior who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Until He began to show me how much I really resisted Him. Apparently, I didn’t mean the part that loves cheese and baked goods.

We humans tend to compartmentalize. We’ll readily give Jesus access to some places. But others we reserve for ourselves. We’ll give Him our service, but we guard our cravings. Some part of us believes we have a right to them. And we wrap it all up with the notion that our God of blessing wants us to be happy.

And He does. He just wants to be the source of that happiness. He wants us living bound to the notion of Psalm 16:11.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

God doesn’t want us seeking to find joy in His blessings. He wants us knowing He is the blessing.

God doesn’t want us seeking to find joy in His blessings. He wants us knowing He is the blessing. Click To Tweet

Sometimes surrender is easy. Sometimes we go kicking and screaming. But the question remains. Will we go?

Will we ask Him to take us to His very best for us and be willing to follow where He leads? Will we go even if no one else goes with us?

Even though my flesh at times resists Him, I’m thankful for a God who answers prayer. And even though the road is often hard and bumpy, He’s worth the trip.

The death of my flesh isn’t the only thing I’ve been asking God for. I’ve also been praying for wisdom and understanding of His Word that will break open the darkness binding much of the church and release His bride to shine brightly in the beauty of the cross.

Look at what link He just showed me again in scripture.

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.… And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. Daniel 1:8, 20

God honored Daniel’s fast with wisdom and understanding that astounded the world. Only He knows how He’ll honor mine.

I’m not arguing with God anymore. Hopeful expectation has overshadowed that feeling of hopelessness. The King of Kings stands ready to move in my life as I willingly submit and trust Him with my future.

He won’t disappoint.

Oh, beloved. What are you willing to seek God for?

stubborn hard heart

The Danger of a Hard Heart

Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble. Proverbs 28:14

Sometimes life just gets hard. Particularly when you have to watch people you love suffer. We hurt when they hurt, and we don’t like it. So when people or circumstances inflict pain, our hearts get a little stony toward those responsible. We want to shut them out at best, and at worst, give them a taste of their own medicine.

But something happens when we allow our hearts to harden toward people. They begin to harden toward God.

You see, God loves people. He’s for them. All of them. And He offered up His Son on a cross to rekindle selfless love in the hearts of humanity. So the still, small voice of Jesus will incline our hearts toward mercy. Forgiveness. Love that covers a multitude of sin. Truth.

And when we insist on something else—anger, bitterness, retribution, deception—we harden our hearts to the leadership of our Lord. If we persist in denying Him, we will find ourselves in serious trouble.

Look at how God responds to perpetually hardening our hearts to His voice.

And now, because you have done all these things, declares the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim. Jeremiah 7:13-15

When we allow our hearts to harden toward what God is speaking, we harden our hearts toward God. And when we bear His name—claiming a position in His house—He will not tolerate our refusal of Him indefinitely. When we persist in disregarding His Word, eventually His presence withdraws and we relinquish the safety He brings.

That’s not all. God added this astonishing command to Jeremiah in verse 16.

“As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.”

Can you imagine how Jeremiah must have felt hearing those words? God commanded him not to pray for these people who bore God’s name.

Judgment had fallen against the people of God. And Jeremiah couldn’t stop it. God told him not to even try.

I wonder if that thought unsettles you like it does me. God instructed Jeremiah not to intercede. He would not hear prayer on the matter. Surely this seems out of God’s character.

But this wasn’t the only time it happened. Here’s another.

For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart…”

 Again the Lord said to me, “A conspiracy exists among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers. Therefore, thus says the Lord, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. Jeremiah 11:7-11

Did you notice in both passages that God warned them persistently? Over and over, God extended mercy, imploring them to respond. Yet these members of God’s house repeatedly rejected His cries, refusing to acknowledge His desires. Their hardened hearts unleashed consequences that could not be undone.

And again God commanded Jeremiah.

“Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.  What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?…” Verses 14-15

Oh, brothers and sisters. Verse 15 brings me to my knees. What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?

Indeed. What rights can we expect God to honor when we abuse our position in His house? How long will He suffer us to disregard Him when He speaks?

Are you listening, beloved?

It’s easy to feel discouraged by the condition of the church today. In many places, an enemy has misconstrued grace for license. Holiness seems foreign. The people of God resemble the world far more than Jesus. We build our own kingdoms with little regard for Christ’s.

Yet with all of this, something stirs deep within me.

Hope.

You see. God hasn’t commanded me not to pray. Quite the contrary. His Spirit calls me to my knees. And that, beloved, means we have not yet wandered so far that we can’t return.

Do you hear Him calling too?

As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:15

God speaks, beloved. Our future depends on how we respond.

The Power to Live Your Calling

We need each other.

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

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

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

Until He made man. He saw that he was alone, and declared it “not good.” Adam didn’t even realize it, but he needed a helper.

You, dear one, need helpers too. We all do. We were never created to work alone. We were made to live together and help one another.

Even Jesus needed people. He called together twelve that would help Him. And although Jesus went off by Himself to pray, He ministered with people. When He sent people out, He never sent them alone.

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

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

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

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

Apparently, God still thinks it isn’t good for us to serve alone. We need helpers. But I wonder if you noticed a common thread woven through each scripture. God chooses them.

The same way He spoke creation’s story, He’s spoken yours. He has knit together the perfect plan and chosen the perfect people to help you accomplish it. But you’ll only discover it when you seek Him to reveal it. Even Jesus had to seek His Father’s direction over who would serve with Him.

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles. Luke 6:12-13

Have you opened your heart to new, godly relationships? Are you connecting with the body of Christ, or do you allow the enemy to pull you away and separate you?

Tremendous blessings fall when believers unite in Jesus name for His purpose. Jesus shared one of them in Matthew 18:20.

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

Jesus manifests when we unite in His name.

You may have noticed that elders laid hands on Saul and Barnabas before sending them out in ministry (Acts 13:3). God has captured my attention with another mention of laying hands.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6

Take a moment to meditate on that scripture. Paul writes that Timothy received a spiritual gift through the laying on of hands, and he charges him to fan it into flame. I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ words, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Jesus manifests when we gather in His name.

1 Timothy 4:14 offers this additional information about Timothy’s gift.

Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.

Paul paints an interesting picture for us. Believers uniting in Jesus’ name, seeking God’s will to declare over their brother, released the heavenly power to accomplish the task. Romans 10:17 seems appropriate here.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

What if the faith exercised in believing Christ’s word spoken over a believer releases the grace to accomplish the task—ignites the spiritual gift?

Scripture gives us lots to chew on. But on this point, God remains clear. He wants us uniting with Him and others to advance His kingdom.

Perhaps it’s time to open your heart to those He’s called you to serve with. He may just speak your calling into your heart through one of them. And this principle calls to us from Genesis to Revelation.

Faith accesses grace.

Believe, child of God.

And receive the power to live your calling.

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