Shameless Child

I have heard stories about people who were adopted say they had a longing, or a feeling like something is missing in them. If they discover their birth parents this sense is sometimes alleviated. It is as if we are built with a yearning to know where we came from, what our roots are. This probably also explains the popularity of family trees, genealogy and ancestry sites which are more easily accessible now.

God, the original infinite family – 3 in one- God, Holy Spirit & Jesus, created the first family,‘ All things were created by Him and for Him’ Colossians 1:16– Adam and Eve. He created us for His pleasure but not in the sense of pleasure as we may describe it but for relationship. Since the beginning, the longing to belong and have relationship was deeply implanted in us all.

We all seek identity in one form or another even if we had the most attentive, loving parents in the world and especially if we are followers of Christ. We were created to have relationship with God and He pursues our hearts, then when we listen and use our free will to choose Him, he adopts us. I love how the New Living Translation says it, “God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself by Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do and it gave Him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:5

I don’t believe this quest of belonging is ever wasted. We are on a journey of discovery about who we are in Christ from the moment we choose Him. It is when we discover who He is, what His heart is, that we can get to the heart of who we are. Like those people discovering their birth parents, we find the place of affiliation in God’s family.

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also heirs.” Galatians 4:4-7

I have a lot of family that is not biological but because we share the blood of Jesus, it is a deep connection. Sometimes it is instant before a relationship is really formed. It is a sweet thing when you know your hope lies in the same place, the person of Jesus.

Where does your hope lie? Jesus died for you too. Come as you are, as a little child. Read Luke 15:11-32 and see His heart for you. He is waiting for you to come home.

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Wholly Blood

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“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” Leviticus 17:11

I never grew up hearing old hymns but as a baby Christian I did, 15 years ago. One of my favourites is There is Power in the Blood. “There is power, power, wonder-working power, in the precious blood of the Lamb.” I love the history of these great songs and writers. This one was written by Lewis E. Jones in 1899. He wrote this classic during a camp meeting. Writing was a sideline to all the work he accomplished for the YMCA. The longevity of these hymns speaks volumes about their power and impact.

Within the lyrics are great reminders as to what the power of Jesus’ blood accomplished when He was crucified for our sins. It makes us free, there is power, it cleanses us, it takes away our sin, it gives us the ability to serve Him and it causes us to praise Him. These hymns speak the hard truth of God’s word. The beauty of music and song bring the truth in with grace.

Blood gives us life. It is an essential part of our body function. Some of its specific purposes include carrying key substances and nutrients to our cells, such as sugar, oxygen and hormones. It also carries waste away from the cells. This reminds me of how Jesus’ blood cleanses us from sin and shame. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NASB)

Red blood cells carry oxygen to vital parts of our body. Jesus carried his cross to bring us life and invites us to do the same. ‘Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”‘ Matthew 16:24

White blood cells defend our body against infections and foreign materials. Jesus fought death and darkness by His death and resurrection. 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus” 1 Corinthians 15

Platelets coagulate or clot the blood and prevent us from bleeding out. Jesus stops our eternal death by giving us eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

These comparisons may seem a stretch for those who don’t know the saving blood of Jesus. I encourage those who are skeptical of these truths to start in the gospel of John and read Jesus’ story. Ironically in the times of indifference to what we watch, listen to and believe, some people want to take the blood of Jesus out of the equation or the songs as it signifies the gore of the crucifixion. Ha, have you read the bible? Our history is littered with gore, war and violence. Mankind has not changed a whole lot, we can just see and respond and share our opinion faster than ever before.

The truth of Jesus’ blood shed for us is crucial in the story. Blood was mandatory for the cleansing of sins. The people used to do it through a priest and a sacrificial animal and God finished it through the sacrifice of His Son, the lamb of God. Once and for all.

Yesterday Pastor Craig Groeschel quoted research being done that 48% of people say they are Post Christian, which means they are familiar with Christianity but are intentionally choosing to reject it. This is frightening to me and encourages me to continue shining light into the darkness. Pastor Craig also said that he fears people are just getting little snippets of Jesus, enough to make them feel good but not enough to make them different. I implore you that there is power in the Blood. Don’t just know Him a little bit. Don’t just pick and choose the ‘good’ parts of Jesus. Relationship requires all of Him. Blood and all.

There is Power in the Blood.

http://www.hymnary.org/text/would_you_be_free_from_the_burden_jones

 

 

Fearless Prey

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“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Peter prefaces this verse by encouraging the scattered believers to cast all of their cares upon God and follows it by reminding them to resist satan. He knew that when we get caught up in our cares, we take our eyes off of Jesus and become prime targets for the enemy to steal, kill and destroy. Peter had experienced this more than once and he had learned that standing firm in the faith and being deliberate in resisting the enemy was the only way to stand in the face of resistance.

The enemy, satan, the devil, Beelzebub, Lucifer, King of Babylon, Antichrist, Father of lies,  whatever name you have heard him referred to it doesn’t refute the fact that he is real. He would delight in nothing more than destroying you. Satan in Hebrew actually means destruction. Ignoring his existence does not lessen his efforts. He appears in ways that can be pleasing to us as Paul warns people to be aware of false prophets. “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14

Deception is his game. Death is his aim. Often he uses people to create the distraction. He nudges someone to offend, or take offense. The Father of lies whispers unworthiness, uselessness, isolation into ears ripe to blame. Or he builds up, pumping someone full of pride and entitlement. He sneaks into the hurt and the wounded and encourages stuffing of the pain until a root of bitterness or unforgiveness grows in the darkness.

Death can come in the form of complacency, spiritual apathy, broken relationships, addictions, people bound up in trauma and pain, actual death. Anything that will hinder a thriving relationship with God. He doesn’t actually have to kill us for us to be ineffective in the Kingdom of God.

Yesterday my husband was working in the garage swapping tires on his truck. He heard a bird chirping as though in distress. Looking up he saw one flying frantically around the garage and as he watched a falcon swooped in behind it in full pursuit. The potential victim bird flew toward the windows of the door sensing a possible escape. In a moment, the falcon curled its deadly talons over the bird and dropped to the floor. Mesmerized by this scene, keeping eye contact with this predator for many seconds, Wade reached for his phone to try to capture the moment. Who would believe this? Much to his chagrin, his hip was empty, his phone left inside. A few more seconds of eye contact and the falcon lifted up and out the door, prey in tact.

The differences were evident between my husband and I as he was totally fascinated with this series of events and I incredulous, asked, is this an omen? It reminded me though of how the enemy swoops into our circumstances and lives with no regard for anything else but to capture its prey. He has someone in his sights and is relentless to try to capture them.

This is not meant to make you fearful, only aware. There is good news. Jesus. He wins.

Sin is a way for the devil to get in. Jesus died for our sin.

“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

Repent. Acts 3:19, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

Live from a place of Victory. Romans 8:37 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Do not give in to fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and a sound mind.”

Always remember. 1 John 4:4, “You dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

We are not helpless prey, we have been given authority over the enemy by the blood of Jesus that was shed for us. Read the chapter Ephesians 6 to learn about your armour and power against the enemy and Stand firm. God wins in the end.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:10,11…

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Shameless Righteousness

“And the heavens proclaim His righteousness, for he is a God of justice.” Psalm 50:6

Righteous – acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin

We are righteous when we choose Jesus. We are free from guilt and sin. It is finished. But the journey of righteousness continues as we walk with Him. We learn how to act according to our new nature, lining up with the divinity of God. As it says in the word, we become more like him when we are in relationship with Him. 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

One of the key ways we do this is by learning through the Bible, his spoken Word. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16,17

I just tried rolling up tin foil that fell out of its container. Funny it doesn’t quite look the same as before. It is kind of like when we try to become righteous on our own, wrinkled and misshapen and not able to fit in the old container. There are a lot of ways that the bible talks about righteousness.

We are to pursue it: “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honour.” Proverbs 21:21

We are to put it on: “I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban.” Job 29:14

We are to seek it: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

We are to become it: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

We are to reap it:  “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18

We are to hunger and thirst for it: “Blessed are those who and hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

I think you get the idea. These are not passive words, they are actions we are to take as we follow after the One who is righteous. The Lord loves righteousness (Psalm 33:5) and He is it (Psalm 145:17). 

In my journey toward God, I have tried to force this process by doing right things, thinking that will make up for the wrong in me. Doing right things isn’t wrong but the motive for doing them can be. We are justified in Him, ‘Just as if I’ve never sinned’ that is His lens to see me. I need to pursue, put on, seek, become, reap, hunger and thirst after what will make us most like Him. Join me on the race marked out for us. 

What are your motives behind your actions? What kinds of things are you seeking? 

Shameless Authority

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My heart is overflowing. I got to sit with the King tonight and 4 of some of the most amazing, gifted Jesus lovers I have the privilege to know.

Our mission- to pray. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Our privilege – to come and be able to stand before God’s throne of grace and bring our praise and requests to Him. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Our responsibility – to build a wall of prayer around each other, our church and the women’s event happening in one week. ‘And the lookout shouted, “Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower; every night I stay at my post.” Isaiah 21:8

Our blessing – feeling encouraged in the Lord. “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.” Colossians 2:2

Our gift – Jesus and because He is in us we have His authority. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'” Matthew 28:18

Authority – Greek – exousia, power, authority, weight, especially moral authority, influence.

For those of us that follow Jesus, as His disciples, we have been given influence. In Mark 3:14,15 it says, “He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.”

It is a great privilege to extend His power, healing and love. I too easily forget that God has given me the authority through Jesus to show His glory by the simple obedience of praying for others.

Prayer is our language to speak with God. It is the highway of heavenly communication. It is vital to our relationship with God. Relationships take conversing to be healthy, so it is just as important to listen in our communication with Him as it is to talk.

The key is remembering that the authority has been given by God. We aren’t able to do anything without the power of God behind it. We don’t have to pray because we are Christians, we get to pray because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. God has given us access into His Holy throne room because He loved us so much and He wants everyone to know that love.

We can’t take that lightly.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it… is to walk in the authority given by Jesus, to pray, heal the sick, drive out demons, encourage one another, stand guard for the enemy that is prowling around trying to kill, steal and destroy, to bless with His words and love, to bring truth into injustice, to bring light into the darkness, to pave the way so that others will know the love of Jesus.

You can start here:

Matthew 6:9-13New International Version (NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
    but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

 

 

Genuine Surrender

‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.’ Philippians 1:21

Often when we think of the word surrender, we associate it to a laying down of arms and giving up as in an act of war or crime. We imagine a scene of carnage surrounding the perpetrator, like a last ditch effort for them to try and escape or make a statement.

Dictionary.com defines surrender as ‘cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.’

At the beginning stages of surrender we may see God as an opponent. This collaborates with our imagined scene of surrender induced carnage. A biblical definition though is emptying of self, or allowing Christ to take our place which is in essence submitting to an authority.

Sometimes we don’t feel a need to surrender. I think this is the first step to the different levels of yielding to God.  We move along the path of surrender, doing it for our own gain until we reach a place of genuine submission.

I listened  to Steven Furtick teaching from the story of the man by the pool at Bethesda in John 5. He said something to the effect, we sometimes are with people of similar disabilities so we feel more normal in our own dysfunction. Our submission starts with relying on ourself.

I started thinking of this man, who for 38 years came and laid by the pool, hoping for some miraculous push to be the first to receive the angels water-stirring healing. water-drip-921067_640They were all in the same position, they all had similar disabilities. Do you think there were new people that came hearing of this healing but then they heard the thoughts of those that had been ‘waiting’ for years for their miracle instead of surrendering to their circumstances.

Someone limped into the crowds excited and hopeful, asking.’ Is  it true? Is it true? Are people healed here? ‘

I imagine some of them would not even lift their heads, weary as they were from waiting. Others would respond cynically,’ Well that is what I was told but I have yet to see it.’

Still others full of blame and bitterness,’These people are so pushy and inconsiderate, there is no way to even get close for that.’

How much had these thoughts kept them all prisoner and created carnage? Not just physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. Do you see how weariness, cynicism, blame and bitterness could exacerbate this kind of thinking? One encounter with Jesus could change the direction of this carnage though.

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As He entered what was known as the House of Mercy, he scanned the crowds, asking the broken how long they had been there. This conversation amazes me every time.  Jesus to the invalid, ” Do you want to get well?”

 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

What! At once? He didn’t even answer the question!

True to what Steven Furtick said, ‘Most of us love the idea of God changing our circumstances but we don’t love the idea of God changing US.’

Why do you suppose that Jesus chose this particular invalid? Do you think he saw the potential for surrender in his heart? 38 years! Or could this amazing touch from Jesus have been the most impactful?

Rick Warren describes Genuine Surrender as us saying, “Father, if this problem, pain, sickness or circumstance is needed to fulfill your purpose or glory in my life or anothers life, please don’t take it away.”

My heart is not there but it is to get there.  How about you? Are you ready for a new level of surrender?

“Father, help me to trust you where I don’t. Let my true cry be to live is Christ and to die is gain. Help me to see past myself Lord and genuinely surrender to the healing and changes you want to do in me, through me and for your glory. In your precious name Jesus, Amen” 

Shameless Trust

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I feel like if I could truly submit to these verses in all areas of my life, the rest would fall into place. I know I have taught on these verses before but there is so much truth and meat in them. At least for me as I tend to lead with my head and not my heart. Overthinking is a heart killer. It hinders our relationship with God and others.

 Now hear me, I am not saying don’t use your brain because God gifted us with that for sure. I am saying don’t live there. I am saying we can’t possibly figure everything out on our own, nor should we try because then why would we need relationships? Or God. 

Why trust in our limited understanding when we can trust in the unlimited knowledge of God. We aren’t setting aside our intellect by trusting God but leaning on Him, the wisest thing we can do. 

Beth Moore once asked the question, ‘Is there somewhere along the way you set aside your heart and decided to make it an intellectual journey?’ This question arrested my heart and caused me to search for that answer. 

I think often in our journey of life we learn ways to protect our hearts when they experience too much pain. In the process these ‘protection modes’ numb our hearts and ignite our thoughts causing us to make those decisions not to feel. 

What if I told you there was another way to do things? What if trusting God as your source could apprehend your overthinking

These verses in Proverbs give us license to not go into protection mode. If we can switch the trigger point when we shut down our hearts and turn to the Lord instead, we can choose to trust Him instead of our own anxiety. We absolutely can acknowledge that our circumstances are difficult but as Jason Vallotton said, ‘If God is our source, once we acknowledge our difficulty, we can then go to God and access the grace needed for the season that we are in.’ 

Solomon, the wisest man to have lived, wrote the book of Proverbs. He learned the best way to live was to acknowledge and trust God with all of his ways. Note, he said ALL, not some or just the parts you choose, but all. I want to go with the wise guy in this case and let God set my paths straight. 

I know this isn’t easy, especially for us head cases, but it is possible with God. It takes retraining and as the apostle Paul said ‘to take every thought captive’ (2 Corinthians 10:5) and ‘renew our minds'(Romans 12:2) It is choosing to be deliberate. It is asking God to help us where we are helpless. It is challenging our complacency in the areas of thinking that we just think any thought dropped in our brain is the ‘gospel’ truth. It is trusting the process. It is submitting to God’s perfect will. 

What do you need to do differently in the area of your thinking today? Ask Him to show you and trust.