Friday, October 31, 2014

See God {Day 31: How God Sees You}

We have spent the last month seeing God. Today, I want to turn the tables and let you in on how God sees you. I am speaking directly to women that have been bought by the blood of Christ.

Isaiah 62:1-5
1For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.
2The nations will see your vindication,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
3You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,a
and your land Beulahb ;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
5As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.

Hephzibah.  If you only learn one Hebrew word, let this be the one.  Hephzibah means "My Delight is in Her."  God's delight is in you.

God takes desolate and forsaken Israel and changes her name.  He instead calls her Hephzibah because she makes him happy and brings him pleasure.

Left to myself, I am worthy of wrath and destruction and all the ruin that my own ugly sin can conjure up.  But in Christ, God is able to audibly shout his love over me.  The redeeming blood of Jesus strips away all barriers so that God can envelope me in His presence.

I am my Beloved's.  And His desire is for me.

Such freedom that a word brings.  Hephzibah. God delights over you!  Not because of what you have done for Him but because you are His!  As a bridegroom rejoices over His bride, so does God rejoice over you!

You are now defined by God.  You are no longer defined by your current circumstances.  No longer haunted by your past. No longer shamed when looking at size zero models on television screens. No longer plagued by singleness or infertility. No longer forgotten by your husband.

You are married to God.
Your land is blessed.
You are redeemed.
You are set free.
You are Hephzibah.
God's delight is in you.

You are a crown of splendor in His hand.

You are Hephzibah.
His deepest delight is in you.
Just the way you are.
{Precious soul, thank you for choosing to see God with me these past 31 days.  May He continue to reveal His grace and love towards you.}

Thursday, October 30, 2014

See God {Day 30: Even the Bitter Becomes Sweet}

Sweet friends.  We have spent the last 29 days prying open our hearts, asking for fresh eyes to behold God.  We have seen how God hems us in.  We have seen how He creates us in His image, cherishes us as if we were an unborn fetus, and then sings over us.  God is our Stone, our Rain, and our Gate.  He loves intricate details including timing and seeds.  He loves us so much He is willing to wrestle with us so that He can change our very names. He pushes us out of our comfort zones so that we will inherit the land that is meant for us.

He simply is too much sometimes.  He leaves me undone.

My eyes are about to spill over with His goodness.

I hope you have beheld Him in a fresh and beautiful way this month.

Today, I want to tell you what is on my heart.  Hungry.  It is my word for the year.  I want Him so desperately.  I want to sit at His banqueting table and feast on who He is.  I am downright upset that I can't see Him face to face yet. 

Wesley Gladden's photo.

Today, I want to tell you how to really see God. If we are hungry for His presence, then there is one verse that might help us with this.

Proverbs 27:7 says, "One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry, even what is bitter tastes sweet."

When we are starved for the real Jesus, we will joyfully welcome Him even if He comes alongside of hardship, trial, persecution, or tragedy. 

The unexpected and shocking death.
The miscarriage.
The cancer diagnosis.
The marriage dispute.
The financial upheaval.
The dream that was stomped upon.
The betrayal.
The sting when your heart is crying to be heard.
The loneliness.
The rebellious child.
The empty womb.

Jesus takes all bitterness and meets us in that place. He knows that this ugly pit we have been thrown into might be the very thing that allows us to behold Him in a fresh way.  If Jesus has our worship in the bitter times, then isn't it all the more sweet to Him to know that He has our whole hearts?

There is nothing like heartache to usher us straight into His affectionate arms.  The question is this:  will we allow our bitter circumstances to make us bitter or will we allow them to point us to knowing God in a fresh way? The choice is ours.

How are we to know He is Provision unless we have been stripped of everything else?  How are we to know He is peace unless chaos abounds?  How are we to know He is sufficient unless nothing else matters?  How are we to know He is good unless we are drowning in everything un-good? 

In the wilderness, at the bitter and undrinkable waters of Marah, Moses threw in a tree and the waters became sweet.

Jesus died on a tree so that He can meet us in our bitter places and reveal His sweet presence.

He is the one our hearts are really craving.

Not the baby.  Not the healing.  Not the restoration. 

What we need more than anything is His real presence.

We can choose to welcome the adversity because we know that through it, we are brought closer to His heartbeat.
She buried her ears into the calm of his heartbeat, and in a matter of seconds; fell terribly in love with the way her loneliness fell softly and suddenly, asleep. in his chest.

We can finally breathe.  We can finally see.

To the hungry, even the bitter things taste sweet.

Perhaps praise God right now for your bitter circumstances and then humbly invite Him to reveal Himself in a precious way. Even in the bitterness, He is there.  He is Jehovah Shammah. He is right there.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  You are beyond valuable to Him. He wants to invite you into His heartbeat.  Lay against His chest and breathe Him in. His affection for you knows no bounds.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

See God {Day 29: What to do when God is Silent}

I have been thinking some about God and how He deals with us.  I think He wants us to know Him so deeply and passionately that He will take us down the same path until we get it.  Until we get Him.  So many times, we think to ourselves, man, I was just here.  The circumstances may look a little different, but it seems to be the same story of the heart.

Lately, I have thought about how I cycle through periods of not hearing God.  It never fails....He simply goes mute.  It shatters me each time, but I think I am coming to some maturity with the issue.

When these periods would come years ago, I would go into some sort of depressive funk, convinced that the Holy of Holies was mad at me for some reason.  I figured I had ticked Him off and He came to His senses and realized I wasn't worth the effort.  The funny thing was that I would repent of sin and He would still remain quiet.  Trying to figure Him out proved futile.

But, now, coming out of another round of silence, I am beginning to see differently.  I think He kept bringing me to the quiescent place in order to keep giving me a chance to behold Him in a new way.

I reflect on how He did this with Elijah in 1 Kings 19.  Elijah had run away from Jezebel and was in quite the emotional state.  God appears to Elijah and asks him what he is doing there.  Elijah goes into a spiel about how he has served faithfully but now people are trying to murder him.  It is a pity party and for some reason that gives me comfort, knowing that Elijah was very much a man just like us.

God decides to graciously offer a beautiful demonstration of Himself to Elijah. He gives a show of powerful wind, earthquake, and fire, but He wasn't found in any of it.  He grants Elijah the gift of His still small voice and gives Elijah a chance to answer differently.

What are you doing here, Elijah?  Elijah missed the point.  He didn't grasp who God was in that moment and he answered the question the exact same way.

When God says that He came in the sound of a low whisper, the Hebrew is literally "a thin silence." One commentary described it as a "still, gentle rustling."  He chose to reveal Himself not thru powerful displays, but through the quiet.

Such grace it must take to hear Him when He is practically silent.

So, what if God chooses to allow us to cycle back to things until we finally get it and see Him in a new light?  Or finally hear Him despite the void?  We need ears to hear!

I read this in "My Utmost for His Highest" and it beautifully takes on this idea...

"Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning?  God’s silences are actually His answers.  Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany!  Is there anything comparable to those days in your life?  Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer?  God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself.  Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response?

When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible— with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation.  If God has given you a silence, then praise Him— He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes.  The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (see Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious— it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy— silence."

I had never considered His silence as GRACE.  The next time I cycle into the hush, I hope I remember that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

See God {Day 28: Jesus and His First Miracle}

I am about to launch into a daunting task. I want to share with you about the time that Jesus first revealed His glory: His first miraculous sign. How on earth do I write about this topic of Jesus's first glimpse of glory in a way that brings Him glory? It is precious. It is holy. I am praying for an anointing over my brain cells and fingertips as I proceed...because if it is His first display of glory, then there must be a huge underlying message, right?

And that is where things seem tricky. You see, Jesus didn't perform this miracle for the masses in order to convince people that He was the Messiah. In fact, most bystanders didn't even know what had occurred. It wasn't time to reveal Himself as the Messiah, but He was also humble. Ever true to his nature, he was humble. But, I am getting ahead of myself; so let's back it up a bit.

Imagine with me that you are Jewish. You live among customs that believe marriages should be richly celebrated and in fact, they take 7 days to do just that. Wine (probably a much less alcoholic content of wine than what we have today) flowed freely for the entire week long banquet. And then, gasp! You are all the sudden out of wine. The custom for that day would have said that you were not a good host and that you could even be sued for such an act of rudeness.

Enter: Mary, the mother of Jesus. Knowing that her Son is fully capable of handling this disaster, she tells him that they are out of wine. Whether she was helping at the wedding or was friends with the bridal party, I don't know, but what she says next hits me. She speaks towards the servants and tells them to do whatever Jesus asks of them.

Enter: Jesus. He spots 6 stone water jars. These were used for ritualistic washing. The Old Testament gave laws about being purified before entering the temple, etc., and these water pots are what would hold that water. Remember how numbers are significant in the Bible? Well, 6 stands for incompletion and also the number of "man." I think I want to weep, because on their quest for purity, only Jesus could once and for all make them clean. Otherwise, they would just have to keep washing with water...which would always be an imperfect type of clean...a substitute, if you will.

Now, I love this: Jesus turns that water into wine. Wine, being the symbol of His shed blood for us on the cross. He turns their imperfect clean into the only true clean: His blood which can wash away our sins. Beautiful that this is the first miracle, don't you think? It totally points to His purpose and the plan that was laid out before him. He is showing them that a new covenant is about to that says you can be clean through his blood (once and forever) and not through ritualistic cleansings that never quite do the trick.

Enter: servants. Imagine with me that you are poor and desperately need every penny that being a servant at a wedding would provide. You know that one blunder could be the demise of being able to feed your family that day. All of the sudden, this Mary lady tells you to do whatever Jesus instructs. You may or may not have heard rumors about Jesus at this point.

You are willing to listen to what Jesus has to say, after all, your job may be on the line. But, then He tells you to fill the jars with water. So, you haul almost 200 gallons of water to the base of the stone jars. And you dump almost 200 gallons of water into the stone jars. And, with obedient hearts, you even fill them to the brim, even though that wasn't a requirement.

But, then, Jesus tells you to draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet. I would have been like, "Um, hello, our jobs are on the line here." Can't we just get a little sip here and see what is going on? What if it were white wine and there was nothing visual to distinguish it from water? It wasn't as if Jesus had even done anything. He didn't touch the water or even speak a blessing over the water. When did the change take place and is this guy really powerful enough to conquer such a feat? Those are the thoughts that would have been coursing through my mind.

But, the servants seemed to have different thoughts running through their minds. After Jesus asked them to draw some out and take it to the master, it simply says, "they did so." No arguing, no odd stares, no hands on the hips. They simply obeyed. The master takes a big swig and doesn't even realize where the wine had come from. But, the servants knew. Could it be that they were the very first ones to get a glimpse of the glory of Jesus Christ? They were humble and obedient and it drew them straight to a position where they could behold Him.

Could it be that when faithful servants obey, God's glory shines forth? Even when others don't have a clue as to what went down? Perhaps if we live humbly, His glory will be made manifest in our lives!

Enter: the wine. The more expensive wine was usually served first and the cheaper wines later, after the guests had had their fill. But, Jesus does everything backwards. He saves the best until last. This concept is so opposite from what Satan and the world teach. They offer the short lived pleasures of sin first and then the wages and consequences last. Satan taunts us by telling us that we need this or that now. He tells us that youth is better than age and wisdom. He tells us that the this earth is all there is and that we don't need to think about the afterlife.

But Jesus is good. He is smart. He is wise. He is saving the best wine til last. He asks us to suffer with Him before we can reign with Him. He asks us to go through the wilderness before we can come into the joyful inheritance. He gives us hope that one day nothing will interfere with fellowship with Him. It will be the best wine. And it will flow forevermore. I just want to jump up and down! He is saving the best for last and He is true to His word.

I was pondering the fact that hardly anyone that day recognized what Jesus did. His glory was on display for the first time that day and most people didn't even know it. The servants, disciples, and his mother are probably the only ones who got it. It made me wonder what I am missing out on. I have always wanted to see His glory and I have to wonder if pride in my heart or a disobedient spirit has ever hindered that.

I thought the below would be a good check for my is from Spurgeon

1. When Christ is about to bestow a blessing, He gives a command. "When Jesus is about to bless, He challenges men's obedience by issuing His royal orders."

2. Christ's commands are not to be questioned, but to be obeyed. (People want wine and He tells them to fill the pots with water...His ways are not our ways.)

3. Whenever we get a command from Christ, it is always wisdom to carry it out zealously. (We should throw our souls into what He asks of us and fill things to the brim.)

4. Our earnest action in obedience to Christ is not contrary to our dependence upon Him, but is necessary to our dependence upon Him.

5. Our action alone is not sufficient (No power until Jesus displays His glory.)

6. Although human action in itself falls short of the desired end, yet it has its place, and God has made it necessary by His appointment.

When your glory is on display, Lord, I want to see it! Give me grace to be a willing and obedient servant.

Monday, October 27, 2014

See God {Day 27: God's Grace for the Pilgrimage}

I believe God when He says that His grace is sufficient. I used to think that maybe we received extra doses when tragedy struck, but now I think that grace just is. It is a constant and it is sufficient for whatever we are going through. I used to pray that He would give more grace, now I pray that I am able to live in the already present grace that is available to us. His power is displayed in our weakness. It just is.

With that said, I think we can grow in the revelation of that grace. Since God is unchanging, then His grace must remain constant as well. So, the only thing that can change is our perception of God’s grace. When 2 Peter 3:17-18 challenges us to grow in grace, it is challenging us to grow in our knowledge and understanding of the ever present grace of God.

If God’s grace is inexhaustible, then how do we access it? God is merciful and is always willing to bathe us in His grace, but he also requires that we be humble, submit to God, and draw near to the Father. As we do these things, we see the Father’s hand at work and can more readily use the grace that He so freely gives.

I have become more and more aware that we, as Christians, are on a pilgrimage. It seems to me that a lot of the journey seems to take place in the desert. We live in a fallen world, and I am not sure that this is a surprise.

Psalm 84 paints a vivid picture of this pilgrimage. Verses 5-7 say, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”

Blessed are those that realize we are on a journey to our true destination. This home is not the one we were made for. Jesus is preparing something far better for us. If we can look forward to the hope of a new home, then Jesus says we are automatically “ashar” or happy and blessed.

The verses say that we are to “pass through” the valley of Baca (which means weeping.) We aren’t meant to stay in a place of despair, adversity and sorrow forever. With God’s grace, we are to pass through. God is our strength and with him as our stronghold and fortification, we can pass through that place and arrive at a place of springs and refreshment.

Verse 7 says that we are to go from “strength to strength” till we each appear before our beloved God. It basically means that we are to go from “capable to capable,” all the while increasing in victorious power as we walk in God’s grace through the difficult and dry seasons. As pilgrims, we know that seeing our Father’s face is our ultimate destination, so we allow God to turn our tears into living streams of water.

Trying to trust in our own understanding of circumstances will only bring death to our souls, so we accept the daily fresh anointing to keep on the narrow path, even when we don’t understand the rocky and deserted path that He has placed our feet upon.

Those who grow in grace shall be perfect in glory. Those that keep putting one foot in front of the other will see the face of Christ. Psalm 84:11 says that “no good thing will he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”
Allow me to walk, Jesus. Over these next few weeks, months, and years, just help me keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

See God {Day 26: When God's Daughters Pray}

For my female friends...
You probably know by now that you and the men in your life are not the same. At all. Let's go back to Genesis for a minute and see if perhaps God has put a special grace on your life in certain areas.

God created man from the earth and woman from the man. So, in a sense, females are doubly complex and more emotionally in tune with things.

Women (instead of men) have the ability to conceive and give birth to things.

Women have a special grace given by God to bring life into situations. Men have a unique capacity to bring order and structure to an environment. But a woman enlivens that place. It is like the old saying...only a woman can make a house a home.

"The Lord gave Adam a primary ability to name and establish reality; He gave to woman the unique capacity to conceive and then birth reality.  The primary strength of each sex is that man establishes, woman births." Frangipane

So, what does this mean in the spiritual realm? I think that when it comes to prayer, you, female friend, are very, very powerful.

You have the ability to conceive how a situation can glorify God and then you have the ability to pray forth life over the situation until it actually gives birth and becomes reality.

I am not saying that men shouldn't pray or are excused from praying...but women seem to be naturally bent towards this since they are better in tune with things emotionally.

You have the ability to birth breakthroughs and release life through your intercessory prayer! Your prayers for your children, husband, church, friends, and country can literally release new beginnings...beginnings that will glorify God!

I believe our nation is in desperate need of prayer. It is either going to tumble down the steep incline towards abhorrent evil or have an awakening. What if our prayers for our nation birthed a return to God and His righteous ways? What if our prayers bring forth life into situations that would have otherwise ended in death?

Satan doesn't want you praying. He knows that Jesus Christ (God with us) came to the world through a woman's power to give birth! (God obviously didn't need a female's help, but He allowed her to participate...just like in prayer!) He also knows that your intercessory prayer does powerful actually releases new beginnings!

Lord, release the women of God and release the power of prayer in our lives! Don't let us believe the lie that says we can't make a difference or that our prayers don't actually bring forth life!

{Some of these ideas are from Francis Frangipane's book "This Day We Fight!"}

Saturday, October 25, 2014

See God {Day 25: God of Progress}

I heard someone say that the word joy was found throughout the book of Philippians so I decided to camp out there for awhile.  It seemed to be that the themes of joy and progression kept popping up.  And so I wondered if they might be related.

Do you ever feel stuck?  You look down and all you see is thick black mud threatening your ankles, pulling them deeper into the muck.  You know that if you continue standing still, the mire will eventually creep up to your neck, threatening your very next breath.  And, yet you are stuck.  Paralysis has attacked your frame and no amount of wishful thinking is going to yank you out of the entrapment.

 We need a Savior. We are simply helpless when left to ourselves.

There are many ways to remain transfixed in the same place.
We can revel in our past accomplishments and assume that since we made a difference for the Kingdom back in 2001, then we aren't needed in this hour.  We forget that the "gospel is too glorious to be content with past achievements."

We can remain fastened due to fear, allowing Satan to cripple us completely from experiencing abundant life.

We can dwell on past failures or disappointments, shouting to God that His grace isn't sufficient to carry us out.

All the while, Satan is snickering, knowing that if he can throw us into a pit without the hope of a lifeline, then we will lose all joy.

But, Jesus is our lifeline.  He wants us to progress.  Get unstuck.  He wants to restore joy.  He has a new song to give.

"I waited patiently for the LORD, he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD."  Psalm 40:1-3

Philippians 1:25 says "Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith."

The Greek word for "progress" is "prokopen" which means to advance, go forward, or profit.  It is a word reflecting mobilization.  I think Paul is saying that we are to be constantly pushing God's kingdom forward.  And to do that, we have to get unstuck. 

Jesus knows it is scary to be you. 

And that is why He offers freedom.

Will we cry out for it?

Friday, October 24, 2014

See God {Day 24: God and His Enemy}

We all know that Satan was an arrogant angel who wanted to receive worship instead of give worship.  But, this paragraph has gotten me thinking.

"Contrary to many naive opinions, the devil is not a red monster with a pitchfork, but often a do-gooder.  His goal in life is to counterfeit the works of God.  This has been his prized ambition ever since he went into business for himself.  His first recorded intention ended with the words, 'I will be like the Most High.' (Is. 14:14)  This counterfeiting effort is his most effective ploy, for the more closely he can imitate God's work, the less likely men will be inclined to seek God or pursue His will."  Stanley Ellison

Since Lucifer is a created being, he doesn't have the brains to be anything more than Who created him.  So, he mocks him.  He twists all that is good in God, turns it around, and thinks that he will get worship this way.

 All that is evil does indeed worship him.

This all sounds true, of course, but I wanted to dig deeper into the practicalities of how this plays out.  How exactly does Satan strive to be like the Most High?  Do we recognize it?  Are we onto his schemes?

Here are a few:

 1.  Names.  Jesus is the Lion of Judah.  Satan is the roaring lion.

 2.  Triune/Fellowship.  God is Father/Son/Holy Spirit.  In Revelation, Satan is dragon/beast/false prophet.

 3.  Light.  Jesus is light.  Satan appears as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14)  (This area makes him very deceiving...we really have to know truth to be able to recognize the devil masquerading himself as light when in fact he is darkness.)

 4.  Word.  Jesus is the word, he cannot speak a lie.  Satan knows the word, quotes it and twists it to serve his own purposes.

 5.  Messengers.  Jesus has True Prophets while Satan has False Prophets.

 6.   Spiritual Gifts.  Those from the Holy Spirit will build up the body.  Those Satan misuses will cause confusion and discord, better known as works of the flesh.

 7.  Gospel.  Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life.  Satan:  any religion to get people's minds off the truth (any message that tickles our ears and feeds our egos.)

 8.  Messiah.  Christ is the Messiah and the only one who can really help us.  Satan:  Antichrist will solve all problems and receive worship for a period of time.

 9.  Angels.  Both have followers and ranks in the spirit world.

 10.  City.  God's is Jerusalem.  Satan's is Babylon.

 11.  Feasts/Celebrations.  God has 7 feasts set aside for the Jewish people.  Satan has set apart dates that are used for the occult.

 12.  Marked.  God tells his people to bind teachings as a sign on their hands and foreheads. (Deut. 6:8)  Satan tells his followers they have to be marked on the right hand or forehead in Revelation 13:16.

13.  Marriage.  God says between a man and a woman.  Satan says between same sex.

14.  Titles and themes.  Revelation points to the "The Book of Life."  Satan often copies God's titles and themes, twists them, and uses them for his own agenda.  There is a creepy movie (for kids!)  coming out called "The Book of Life."

15.  Works.  God calls us to do good works in order to show off God's goodness and free grace.  Satan tells us to do good works in order to promote self or "earn" some type of false salvation.

I paid for a new pair of athletic shoes recently with a $100 bill.  The guy at the cash register held the bill up against the light to ensure that it was the real deal.  Satan wants to fool us and tell us that it is God and not him at work.  (Isn't our first instinct to blame God and not Satan for all the bad stuff we face?)  We must hold everything up in our lives to the LIGHT of the Word to see what is really true.

If we are dealing with:  hate, confusion, destruction, unbelief, or hopelessness, we must recognize that these are the exact opposites of love, peace, mercy, faith and hope, and therefore, aren't of God.

You know what is really ironic?  God knows that Satan wants a throne, to have authority, and be worshiped...because Satan wants to be like the Most High.  Guess what God is going to do?  He is going to give him exactly 42 months during the Tribulation for this to occur.  Satan will possess the Antichrist and rule over a throne in Jerusalem.  Everyone left on the earth will either be coerced into worshipping him or they will die.  BUT, after that 42 months, the adversary will be thrown into the pit.  {Can I get an amen?}

I guess I just want my eyes opened to how sneaky Satan is.  I want to expose his lies that I am believing because, after all, he is doing his best to look like the Most High.
How have you found Satan to be the Counterfeit?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

See God {Day 23: God of Generations}

What you do today is lasting.  It is molding your children and future generations to come whether you realize it or not.  I was blessed with precious and Godly family on both sides.  If that wasn't your case, then you can do a reversal.  Choose God and holiness.  Our God is a God of generations.  Claim your lineage for His glory and purpose. Your prayers for your future line are powerful!

This is a small tale of my great grandfather's last day of life (from my perspective) and how his legacy still continues. He was a man who passed down many traits to me including a love for land, a love for God, and a love for music.

Raymond Sidney Pitts, better known as Dock, walked into the kitchen ready for his wife's homemade biscuits.  She had been good to him all these years, creating life all around.  That life came in the form of three strong sons, three homemade meals a day, and three part harmonies.  Ethel was her name and she had been his bride for as long as he could remember.  Well, 76 years as of yesterday if specifics mattered.  To him, they didn't.  He only measured things by integrity and loyalty.

He brushed by her side to get a glass out of the cabinet.  He caught the faintest hint of her shampoo and remembered the details of the previous evening.  They had turned into bed around eight.  While facing the wall like usual, he received an unusual scolding.  She asked him why he always faced the opposite direction from her while going to sleep. 

He turned towards her, wrapped his arms around her frail frame and held on for all he was worth.

That was last night.  God had been good to give them the gift of companionship for 76 years.  He wasn't sure he knew of any others who had been given such a gift.

He sat next to Ethel at the large oak breakfast table and devoured his breakfast.  He never would tire of her cooking.  He smiled inside when he thought about all the times that his granddaughters would try to get her to write down her recipes.  Apparently, a "pinch" of this and a "pinch" of that was not exactly what they had in mind.

Dock felt rather sentimental, probably due to the previous evening, and decided to reminisce a bit.  Three sons.  Seven grandchildren.  Eighteen great grandchildren.  Two great great grandchildren.  Apparently, a long marriage wasn't the only gift that God had given to him.

After kissing Ethel's head, he went into the mudroom to don his overalls.  They were dirty, but that was to be expected.  Silly younger generation thought they had to wash something after only wearing it once.  That is probably because they never had to wash anything by hand.  Funny how you can have a different perspective on things when you were born in 1908.

1908.  Wow.  That made him 93.  He knew his math was still good because he was as sharp as a tack.  He glanced in the mirror before going out the back door and laughed at his dyed hair.  Well, if you are going to have a sharp mind, you might as well look the part!

He headed to the garden.  Dock figured that God put Adam in the garden and told him to work it, so working the garden was good enough for him, too.  The weather was a perfect Arkansas May day.  Low 80's and a light breeze tempted him to believe that the offensive humidity of summer wasn't right around the corner.  But, after being a farmer his whole life, well, he just knew better.

Today, he would focus on planting more tomatoes.  He knew every member of his family ate them up like candy, so he wanted to be sure and have enough this year.  Perhaps tomorrow he would ensure that the okra got into the ground.  Gardening was a constant in his life.  He was born on this land and he always believed that being a good steward of it was the least that he could do.

Constants.  Yes, this land was a constant.  It was all he had ever known.

Jesus.  He was a constant.  Dock had seen it "all" so to speak over this past generation, but Jesus had never shown a variation or shifting shadow.  After living the Word for 93 years, he knew it was the only truth out there.

Music.  A true constant.  After redemption, Christ never failed to give him joy when singing gospel tunes.  He and Ethel had sung countless songs to the glory of Jesus.

Constants.  Death was a constant.  But that didn't scare him anymore.  True, he hated to leave his wife behind, but he would love to get a glorious glimpse of the One that had rescued him from the sin stained pit of darkness.

He needed to quit with all this sentimentality and get back to work. 

Grasping his side, he fell to the dirt, wondering when the last rain drop had made its appearance on the dusty surface.

And then that sweet familiar voice thundered in his being,  "Shake yourself from the dust and arise."

Apparently, he was going to receive more than just a glimpse.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

See God {Day 22: God and the Banqueting Table}

He brought me to His banqueting table. His banner over me is love.
I grew up singing this little song and when I read Psalm 78, I hear the Israelites singing anything but

They are stuck between sin and dis-remembering.  They have forgotten who they are and what their God is capable of.  They are teetering on the dangerous line of rebellion that can only fall into discipline and consequence.  What got them to this point?

Verse 11 says it simply:  "They forgot what He had done, the wonders He had shown them."

My mind is blown away by this.  How does one forget walking between two walls of water?  How does one forget a rock being struck only to have drinkable water come forth?  How does one forget bread being rained down from the heavens?

Is it ungratefulness that leads to forgetting or is it forgetting that leads to ungratefulness?  Either way, once they were on the path, sin and bitterness took root. They weren't content with what God had provided and they weren't content with God being God.

They wanted more.  They lusted after meat.  In their sin, they created an appetite for something that God didn't have on the sovereign menu.

In their sin-clouded vision, their belief in God stripped away.  What they asked resonates deep.

"Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?"

You mean to tell me they have seen the cloud by day and the fire by night...they have been fed daily with manna...they have clothing and shoes that have not worn out...they have seen pure water trickle out of rock for crying out loud and they still question God's power and goodness??? 

"Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?"

Have I not muttered the same thing?

We recently were blessed with a small raise.  After calculating what it would provide, my mindset quickly started adding up all the things that it would not take care of.  Not another kid in braces, not a newer vehicle for my husband, not this, not that, not even quail.

I knew I was the same as the Israelites.  I love the Old Testament because I know I have much to learn from God's people, my lineage.

I quickly repented and remembered God's blessings of provision.  It didn't look like what I had desired.  It was manna instead of quail, but it was good and straight from His hand.

When we speak against God and His desire to take care of us, it can quickly lead to bitterness and unbelief.  All the sudden, we forget that it was God who made a way for redemption, gives us His Holy Spirit for guidance, and daily loads us with His benefits.

When left unchecked, He deals with us as He did them:  He gave them their lustful desires. Sometimes it takes a taste of quail to surrender, repent, and remember that God is indeed, in charge.

Only then would they remember {zakar:  to mark, to make mention.} {This story reads really well in Numbers chapter 11 where we find that God strikes down those that craved the meat and the people later named that camp "Kibroth Hattaavah" which means "graves of craving."  Man, I don't know if I wanted to know that.  What am I craving that might lead to some sort of death?}

"Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?"

The point of it all is this:  God had already spread them a banqueting table.  They had all they needed.  They simply weren't content with it anymore.  They were looking ahead instead of being satisfied with their present and daily allowance.

Lord, create in us minds and hearts that choose to worship and remember your acts of goodness towards us.  When we see roots of discontentment creeping up, let us hack away at them until only peace and gratefulness are left.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

See God {Day 21: God and Ditches}

Does the concept of Old Testament Israel being divided into two separate kingdoms confuse you as much as it does me?  Well, let me try to break it down real easy-like for us both!

The people of Israel asked for a king, so God relented and gave them their desires. They weren't content with God being the True King, they wanted flesh and blood.  If only they knew what they were getting themselves into!  So, the first three kings were Saul, David, and Solomon.  They each reigned 40 years.

What happened was that Solomon was not faithful to what God required.  He married a whole lotta women, a lotta them foreigners.  This was a no-no.  So, God tells Solomon that he will separate the great kingdom and create two kingdoms after Solomon dies. 

Unfaithfulness always creates division.

So, God names the upper region, Israel. They didn't have a single good king.  Not one.  They reigned from 7 days to over 40 years, but not a single one got it right by pleasing God.

The lower region, Judah, was the one where God would continue His namesake.  There were good and bad kings, but the good ones continued to worship God as Yahweh.

 Enter the passage that I can't get out of my head:  2 Kings chapter 3.

Joram is the King of the North (Israel) and Jehoshaphat is the King of the South (Judah).  Joram's problem is this:  the King of Moab had to supply a tribute/tax of a huge allotment of sheep to the North.  But, the King of Moab (Mesha) rebelled.  Joram decided to go to Jehoshaphat for help to fight against Moab for the rebellion.

For whatever reason, the King of Edom gets on board as well, so you have three Kings and their armies entering into the Desert of Edom, which must have been the best route to Moab.

After marching for seven days in the wilderness, they run into a huge crisis.

Maybe you experienced it this summer.

No rain.

Zilp. Zada.  No water for the men and no water for the animals.

Catch the Kings' two differing responses.  Joram, the one who did evil in God's sight, immediately responds with this:  "God has gotten us three kings out here to dump us into the hand of Moab."

Jehoshaphat's (the southern king who worshipped God) response is different, "Isn't there a prophet of God anywhere around through whom we can consult God?"

One king wanted to avoid God, the other wanted to seek His face through the prophet.

Elisha agrees to seek God's face on behalf of Jehoshaphat, because he has respect for him as king.

God comes back with this:  "Dig ditches all over the valley."

 Umm. Whaaat?

Here is what God says in full:  "Make this valley full of ditches. For this is what the LORD says:  You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink.  This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also hand Moab over to you.  You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town.  You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones."  (2 Kings 3:16-19)

They obeyed.  They couldn't make it rain, but they did what they could. Despite their thirst and despite the fact that there wasn't a cloud in the sky, they sank down low into the hard earth and dug for all they were worth.

God was true to His word.  The next morning, the water had arrived.  The only thing I can figure out is that it rained far away, in a high region, and the water came into the valley as a flash flood, filling the trenches full. But, I guess God could have done it any way He pleased.  He is God like that!

Here's one of the best parts!  Moab looked into the valley, and having not seen it rain, they believed the reflection of the liquid in the trenches was blood.  They assumed the three kings and their armies had turned on one another.  The Moabites entered the camp and were surprised to have all the other armies surround them instead.  The king of Moab quickly realized his mistake.

Here is what keeps jumping out at me (ESV):  "I will make this dry streambed full of pools." In other words, He is going to fill the valley with water.

I don't know what you need water for, but I want to encourage isn't up to you to produce it! 

Here are a few things that I hope stick with me after studying this passage:

1.  Only God brings what we need

2.  He does it in different ways (He allowed Elijah to see and hear the rain and wind (1 Kings 18:45)...with Elisha, he neither sees nor hears it.) "Many a blessing has been lost by Christians not believing it to be a blessing because it did not come in the particular shape which they had conceived to be proper and right." Spurgeon

 3.  God's instructions to us often don't make sense...he told Noah to build an ark (they had never even seen rain!), he told an army to march around a city, and he told this group to dig ditches.

4.  When He gives an instruction, we should do the thing and then expect the blessing. "Men will, when they expect a thing, prepare for the reception of it." Spurgeon

5.  Faith obeys the instruction before receiving the first sign of fulfillment of the promise.

What I keep asking myself is this:  Do I have the faith to dig ditches?  Or will my response to the wilderness be like Joram's, that God has only brought me thus far to leave me to the enemy?

Monday, October 20, 2014

See God {Day 20: The God with Beautiful Timing}

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

Do you ever feel like you have been left in the dark? Perhaps not a place of spiritual darkness but of ignorant darkness. A place where you find yourself, even after you have begged God to show you wisdom concerning the "why" of a situation. You ask the Source of all knowledge, and yet, He remains silent, as if it is the best thing.

I have been there. I am there. I think I will always be there in certain circumstances. And, I think this is good. I am not saying that God doesn't reveal great and mighty things to us, particularly those that will point to knowing Him more and more. But, I think sometimes, He remains silent, and in that silence, His glory emanates as well.

The King James version says " man can find out the work that God maketh..." Some things are just beyond our ability to uncover. Some things will never be discovered by our minds and hearts. Our understanding is very limited right now. In a sense, we will always be childlike in certain matters. And I think that makes God smile.

He is able to remain sovereign. Full of providence. And we are forced to rely on Him alone. He doesn't disclose every detail to us and we are once again made aware that we are not in control, but we serve the Almighty who is not only in control, but will make all things beautiful when He deems them to be made beautiful.

In His goodness at leaving some things a mystery, He creates an environment where we can be little children, at peace and at rest. Even though our minds and sense of justice cry out for understanding, He knows that we aren't capable of seeing the big picture. Yet.

Psalm 131 says
"My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore."

As God keeps things hidden from our hearts while on this earth, it is actually an act of grace instead of a curse. He wants us in complete, utter love and fellowship with Him. Perhaps living by faith alone is the only place that will get us there.

Right now, certain circumstances seem icy. Sharp. Cold.

But, one day, in His time, those things will be made beautiful. Perhaps those things have already been made beautiful. Continue to rest. One day, we will see it as God does...from beginning to end...and utterly beautiful.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

See God {Day 19: When Mercy Triumphs over Judgment}

"Her life was undone in a moment by her own doing." (Jon Bloom)

And I still don't know what to do with that.  I get to meet occasionally with a lady who has tried countless times to take her own life.  But God won't allow it.  He rescues her every single time.  My heart wrestles with why he didn't rescue my sister that day; why didn't He override her desire to undo her life in a single moment?

So, my heart turns to my Mother, because I know a mother's heart.  I think of the birth of my babies.  I know the longing of wanting them in your arms and out of your womb.  I know there is a sense of sacred that surrounds this day.  It was the day her longings for a child came to fruition.  It was the day of God's promises coming to revelation.  It was the day her faith became her eyes...the day her utterances of "God is my vow, God is faithful to His promise" became the beautiful girl dubbed with the middle name Elisabeth: "God is my vow, God's promise."

God was fulfilling something to my Mother in the gift of this little girl.

It was a day that mercy triumphed.  God had the ability of getting right inside of my Mom's skin.  He saw things from her point of view.  He felt the need she had for a child.  He deliberately identified with her hurt.  And he did something about it.  He poured out his chesed (loving kindness) onto her that day on August 19th.

I think of what Kiley did and how it demands mercy from all those left in the quake of destruction.  I am reminded of the story of the adulteress who was caught in the act and drug to the feet of Jesus, demanding that she be condemned.  Stoned.  Hated.  Jesus asked everyone to start picking up stones.  But only if they are without sin.  No one picked up a stone that day.  Jesus had the right to.  He was flawless.  But His very heart shouted that mercy should triumph over judgment. 

He came to bear the burden of that adulteress's guilt. 
He came to bear my sister's guilt.
He came to bear my guilt.

"God visits us when we are in darkness; when we are in such darkness as to know nothing, see nothing, believe nothing, hope nothing; even then the Lord's mercy comes to us."  (Spurgeon)

Mercy triumphed over judgment that day, the day Kiley bowed to the influence of the shadow of death. She was His child.  That was enough.

I don't want to speak for my sister and I obviously don't understand the ramifications of what happens the moment one dies.  But, I tend to picture Kiley about to approach the majestic throne with a tear streaming down her cheek.  She looks up at her Father and starts to see Him running towards her.  He is filled with compassion for her as He throws His arms around her and kisses her.

Perhaps she takes one look at His eyes and hangs her head in shame at refusing the very breath that He had breathed into her.  She blubbers that she isn't worthy to be called his daughter and He doesn't even hear her.  Instead, He drapes her in the finest robe and begins the celebration.

Our Father is merciful.  He is compassionate.  He knows the deepest aches and wounds of our precious souls. C. H. Spurgeon says it like this, "You are as much a son or daughter when you walk in the dark as when you rejoice in the light of Jehovah's countenance."

 My heart has been heavy with this one theme:  mercy triumphs over judgment.  If we want to find where mercy was first mentioned in the Bible, we will find it in the story of Lot.  He and his daughters are rescued out of a country that thumbs its nose at the One True God.  They were spared from judgment and harm.

I wonder what it means to be merciful.  I know the merciful will be shown mercy.  I believe our rewards in heaven will be tied to how merciful we have been to others while on earth.  I think it is easy for us to choose to act with judgment instead of mercy...especially towards our country and leaders and health care workers right now. What if we chose prayer over condemning words?

Matthew Henry said that "all children of men, in the last day, will be either vessels of wrath or vessels of mercy.  It concerns all to consider among which they shall be found--and let us remember that blessed are the merciful-for they shall obtain mercy." 

Mercy="eleos"; the moral quality of feeling compassion and especially of showing kindness toward someone in need.  It would seem that mercy would always lead to practical help in a person's life.

Will we choose to crawl into someone else's skin until we feel what they feel?  Until we think what they think?  Until we see what they see?  Jesus did.  Jesus chose to become human.  He knows how hard it is to be us, and yet he chose to identify with us anyway.  He chose to be mercy.

"God would have that those whom He has adopted, as He is to them a kind and indulgent Father, to bear and exhibit His image on the earth." Calvin

His image is mercy.

Is that my image?

{Lord, have mercy on me when I have not chosen mercy over judgment.  Give me grace to choose mercy from here on out.}

Saturday, October 18, 2014

See God {Day 18: The God of Intricate Details}

 We worship a God who loves details.
He has every single hair on your head numbered.
He accounts for every tiny grain of sand.
He colored in each petal on each flower.
He made each deep furrow on the gorilla's brow.
He drew polka dots all over the cheetah.
He brushed on pollen inside the hidden recesses.
He has a purpose for each acorn. Each peanut. Each daisy.
He gave the strawberry seed after seed to bring forth more fruit.
He knows you intimately.
Every single beautiful detail.
Rest in His love over you.
Inhale Him today.


Friday, October 17, 2014

See God {Day 17: The God of Rain}

Seems like such an odd thing to be praying for since we are entering a season that tends to be more wet.
 So, maybe it is a prayer for the spiritual realm instead of the physical, but the concept comes from a very physical and tangible concept.

God showered it over me:  the former and the latter rain.

I know what you are thinking, "What on earth is the former and the latter rain?!"  Because that was what was running through my head when every verse I encountered had to do with this subject.

James 5:7  "...he hath long patience for it, until he receives the early and latter rain."

Deuteronomy 11:13-14 "...if you obey...I will give you the rain of your land in his due season...the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil."

Job 29:23 "And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain."

Proverbs 16:15 "In the light of the king's countenance is life, and his favour is as a cloud of latter rain."

Hosea 6:3  "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD, his going forth is prepared as the morning, and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth."

Joel 2:23  "He gave the former rain moderately, he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain in the first month..."

Jeremiah 5:24  "...neither say they in their heart, let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season, he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest."

Zechariah 10:1  "Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them the showers of rain, to everyone, grass in the field."

I am not trying to take things out of context...just wanted you to see that this concept is everywhere! 

But, what does it mean?

On a surface and very practical level, the Palestinian area where Israel is located only receives a significant amount of rain a couple of times a year.  The first time is in the autumn months...around September or October.  This rain is for the purpose of preparing the ground for seed to be sown.  It sometimes only comes as a dew, but it softens the ground enough for the seed to take root into the earth.

The next rain comes in the spring, around April or May.  It comes just before harvest time, which occurs around June.  This rain develops and grows the crops so that the harvest will be plentiful.  It is a harder rain than the former rain.

I am not a dummy.  It would require great faith to live in this kind of environment and expect a crop every year. 

Sometimes what is physical for the Jewish people can be spiritual for the church.  So, what would that look like for us?  Why should we be concerned with a concept known as former and latter rain?

Many associate rain with the Holy Spirit (see Is. 44:3-4).  What if rain could be tied to a soul harvest?  If the former rain softens the soil and allows a seed to be planted, then maybe God uses our witness in this way.  God softens a person's soul, waters the seed that has been planted, and a harvest comes later on.

The rains always had to do with a harvest, so if we are going to apply it to our spiritual lives, then we can't forget this!  How might this work for believers?

In Clarke's words, God wants to do two things:
1.  Impregnate the seed when sown
2.  Fill the ear of wheat near the time of harvest (He wants to ensure what was promised.)

How might this apply?

 Here are just a few ways...

 1.  We can ask God to sow an understanding of Jesus and His rain on it til it is manifested in our lives!  (We can ask the Holy Spirit to rain on our talents and gifts and use them for His glory!)

2.  We can look around and see what God is doing in our lives and ask God to send rain to bring about the result (for our family, God has sown a seed for loving the nations and we are asking God to bring rain to show us what to do with that love.)

3.  We can ask God to send rain on our children's souls...that He would soften the ground for salvation, or rain on the Word that has been implanted in their they will know Him and live their lives to glorify Him.

4.  We can ask God to restore the years the locusts have eaten. (Joel 2) (Through sin, suffering, and/or trials, things in life may have been stripped away...we can ask God for rain to send a bountiful repayment.)

5.  We can pray for rain to fall on our finances...that what we have will go far...and that if He wants to bless us with more, that it will be used for His purposes and name's sake.

6.  We can pray rain over our church and country.  (We can pray for a turning from sin and a turning to God's pure heart...we can pray that rain might lead to a revival of sorts...a true soul harvest.)

7.  We can pray rain over our friends' wombs and arms that are longing for children...that God would prepare the "ground" and fatten and grow that baby until the "harvest."

What seeds are you desiring to be planted?  They can be spiritual and physical!  Pray for the former soften and prepare the ground for it to take root...and then pray for the latter rain, expecting God to come through on His promise!

I think Jesus wants us to know that He is our former and our latter rain.  He came softly the first time, as a suffering servant.  But, when He comes again, it will be as the King of Kings, noticeable, and where everyone will witness His glory.  In our lives, He is both, as well....the one who allows things to start, and the one who brings them to completion.  Our alpha.  Our omega.  Our former rain.  Our latter rain.  Our very living water. (Jn. 7:38)

This idea of former and latter rain goes much deeper when dealing with the nation of Israel, but I wanted to focus on the church today. 

What would rain do for you right now?  Pray for rain.  And then you better open that pretty little mouth of yours wide open!
"For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground:
  I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
 and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses."  Isaiah 44: 3-4