When You Feel Alone, Unsure: Gethsemane

olive tree

They say He knelt down by an olive tree. The twisted trunk, nothing smooth about it.

The doctors, they call it “hematidrosis:”

When extreme stress, severe anxiety – it causes the sweating of blood.

Dripping down from the brow yet to be pierced with a crown of sharp points.

He wasn’t alone. But He felt so. ALONE.

He went away often, to talk to His Father. Alone. But this time, He must have felt so lonely.

How many souls are lonely today?

Friends were nearby, exhausted. How could they really know what was to come. They did not.

He did. Jesus Knew.

This condition, the bleeding of the sweat glands, *Dr. Alexander Metherell says this about it:

“What this did was set up the skin to be extremely fragile so that when Jesus was flogged by the Roman soldier the next day, his skin would be very, very sensitive.

The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them.

…and the whip has pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut the flesh severely.”

Jesus knew.

So He knelt down and asked for the cup to pass.

We’ve all asked for that.

 

doors

jerusalem

In our gardens and closets and cars and dark places. And we’ve felt so alone.

If only we knew.

If only I knew….what Jesus knows now.

That He felt – HE FELT – the abandonment of God, though God was near. He felt – HE FELT – the sin of man – my sins – MY SINS – so I would never really be alone.

Because who doesn’t know you can be in a crowded room and feel so alone.

And your prayers can become this turning of words. Wondering where He is.

Mostly though, me – I get lost in where I am. Listening well enough? Trying hard enough?

And grace is like the wind, brushing the hair from my face. I think it’s passing me by. That my prayers are not often enough, good enough. Spoken with too much of me.

I get so tired of me. The soul wasn’t made to feed on self.

I enter my closet alone, wanting Him. Really only Him. He meets me there.

When I’m regimented and weary and scraping up some kind of offering. To pray for the sick child, the kingdom come down. To learn of Him and hear from Him and have some kind of lasting hope in a world that just keeps turning.

It’s a heavy weight on your back….trying to carry the world on your shoulders. A world He already saved.

steps to mount

He walked those steps to Gethsemane for you. For me.

He knows.

What it’s like to feel alone. Unsure. To ask where God is in the midst of it all.

“God forsaking God. Who can understand it?” -Martin Luther

So He finished it for us.

And on the other side of that dark night of His own soul, the stone rolled away. That heavy stone of sin and wonder and the feeling of abandonment. He was and is and forevermore – the King. Because He faced the demons of untruth, of sin and separation. He faced them for us.

What if there is joy and dancing on the other side of the cross you’re bearing?

What if you’re ten steps away from your Jericho wall falling flat to the ground?

What if loneliness, at it’s very depth, is a lie?

That we are never truly apart – at a distance, pieces of us breaking…but found whole in Him.

That we never really are apart from everyone, because He is near and close and hovering in the clouds hanging over us.

Even the storms can lie to us. Because clouds- they usher in His presence more than we know.

And what if prayer, more than ritual and requirement ……. is a daily breathing in and out of the truth? An oxygen tank to the breathless soul.

What if there really is no red tape with God….in a world tied up with lies and hurdles.

I find that questions are a good thing: an swung open door for the Spirit to work. Sometimes He answers directly – through His Word or a song. Other times I find Him in the seeking.

—————-> When His largeness overshadows the questions.

Even Jesus had to move on from the question to the trusting, the surrender. The falling into Yes.

From “If you’re willing” to “Thy will be done.”

When’s the last time you fell into God?

Today, in a life of days, none of them promised, it’s a miracle I’m awake and punching down my fingers. A miracle you are breathing in and out with eyes to read these words. What if we finally did fall into trust…into Him?

A song for you, for me – for all of us, today:

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*Dr. Metherell was quoted from #CaseforChrist by Lee Strobel. If you have doubts about Jesus, grab a copy for your soul and know that questions are okay. God has the answers.

**Pictures are from my trip across the world to walk in the steps of Christ. I’ve prayed by that olive tree in the garden where He wept. I highly recommend it.

I’m linking up with some great gals at #TestimonyTuesday, Woman2Woman, Three Word Wednesday, CoffeefortheHeart, and Tell His Story.

Change Me, God

Change me, God.

Change the rough edges of the jagged heart I bring to the dark closet to meet you. Change me in those places I hurt and hide and leave for tomorrow.

When I see what needs to be changed in others, change my vision…to see the cross and my sin crushing you there. My weakness and their strength – that I might learn from them, those who are different and walk a different path.

When I lack understanding and compassion – change my mind through the truth of your word, that which I feast on and forget is for others too.

When my words are too many and my ears too distracted, change my circumstances. A forced reckoning….a nudge to listen. Because the most precious time still remains….the season I could do nothing but seek you.

When the news is all but good and the world keeps turning, change me. When others are yelling for justice in the streets, let me live justice in mine.

When I slip on the shirt, let it ring from my life…..”Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Let it start with me.

Change me.

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I’m linking up tonight with Kate and the FMF gals. Have a blessed weekend…

 

 

One Thing I Must Ask of The Lord

Give me neither poverty nor riches

but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. Prov. 30:8-9

Just before the time of the Passion, Christ visited the home of a man named Simon. A woman approached him and began to wash his feet with her tears.

——————> Lord, have we wept like that for you?

And then she pulls out this alabaster jar of perfume worth an entire year’s wages…and breaks it. As if to crush her own doubts and fears from the watchful eyes….and then she pours this oil, running down over the head of Christ. Oh, God – what a privilege. To love on Christ. To care for Him physically.

When once we realize WHO He is, our response will not make sense to the world.

So the men, the followers (yeah, you and me) – they rebuked her. And I’ve reviewed commentaries that give weight to the fact that they wanted to give the money from the perfume to the poor….but I’m not too sure. Oh, that’s what they said. We all use big words.

But the fact that they were even worried about the waste – that got my attention. Because I’ve been there. When I’m budgeting for the family, but just one more visitor to the church needs cash. When I feel like our giving has stretched thin, and we reach down deeper, but I grumble inside later. When we choose to give like our bucket will never empty and I think it really will. Or when our spending on actual needs goes over the line…and I realize I have to trust Him.

The reason money came up so often in the Gospels is the same reason it still challenges our faith: We love it too much.

How can we know if we love money?

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” Ecc. 5:10

It’s just never enough. No matter how much you save, you still worry. No matter how much the raise, you still complain. You always want more.

We see great wisdom in this proverb. In a world that screams, “You need more,” we are encouraged to ask for something quite different. We can still ask Him to bless us, and He wants to. But wisdom knows to guard the heart above all else.

“Give me neither poverty nor riches.”

Can we find the victory – living RIGHT where we are now – in our circumstances – by knowing our Provider?

The more our hearts merge with the heart of the Father..(a daily dying, seeking, abiding place) – the less we even really bring up the subject of money. I’ve found this in my own life, but see it even more in the life of the faithful.

George Mueller sets the bar high here…and I’m reaching for his faith. Even asking for it. (Most days I would settle for the faith of my husband – his faith like a rock)

But Mueller – he knew of daily abiding. Of asking until he received. He knew of a soaking prayer. And in his trust – daily leaning into- the Father – he had his needs met. HUGE needs.

He kept records. Meticulous records. In one account of the orphanage he ran, he wrote:

“Without any one having been personally applied to for anything by me, the sum of 55,408 pounds was given to me for the orphans, as the result of prayer to God, from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1853.”

Trusting in God alone, He waited for the supply. And it came. Story after story of divine provision raining down. Notice, he did not ask others for the supply. He asked God. He lived within the prayer of Christ: Give me my daily bread.

It’s where I’ve been living.

Funny thing about that – there is always enough for today.

“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Tim 6:10

Loving, worrying, chasing, controlling…the wrong things – it is a grievous life.

He provides all we need. Our wants…well, He wants to show us what is best.

Let us rest in our good God, detach from the shiny things of the world which actually dull our souls….and find the JOY He promises in the daily provision.

“I want no other thing, Lord, but you.”

 

Hope for Every Marriage

I remember when the movie Fireproof first came out. My friend Lori told me about the hushed quiet that settled over the theater as the credits rolled. Then my husband and I watched it, and we felt it too. Like a blanket of Spirit dew.

Sometimes you just know when God is all over something.

If there is anything today the enemy is trying to wreck, to undo, to confuse and twist and just plain destroy – it’s marriage. It’s God’s very first answer to the very first problem: when man was alone.

About a month ago, I was talking to the Lord about grace, and I saw a picture of a tree. The trunk stood out as the center of all that branched out. The branch was the home and everything that happened there. I thought He was teaching me about grace in the home, but as usual – God’s vision was bigger.

As I began to pray and think on this picture gift, I was chosen to join the launch team for a new curriculum entitled Story of Marriage by John and Lisa Bevere.

As I began to read their new book, my spirit perked up at the mention of a tree. They were given a picture as well, and in this case the rings of the branch represented the years of marriage.

And for those who are listening with Spirit ears, you are already thinking ahead…tree of life, the fruit we bear, yeah – He is speaking here.

It really does all start in the heart of the home. The difference we make. The sermon we live.

And at the core of the home is the original plan of God: the union of one man and one woman to advance His kingdom forward.

I began to realize that often believers spend most of our lives – in action and thought – focusing on the roots and the branches. We know to be rooted in Christ, and then fumble along in grace as we live that out. It seems then, that we move on to the branches. Our dreams, our spheres of influence, our jobs, ….ALL THE THINGS. Mostly, we focus on our personal lives with Christ (on the good days) and then – honestly, our personal desires.

And because life happens and we stay busy, we fight for a date night every now and then. Oh, we know our marriage is central. We’ve heard the sermon. We say God, first, mate second. But the trunk gets very little attention.

We spend hours studying or reading for pleasure, school, sermon prep…even how to raise kids. When was the last time we invested in learning about marriage?

What if every branch – the length and breadth and health and reach – was determined by the strength of the trunk. And what if, when we were made one with our spouse, even the roots of our individual lives intertwined in such a way that our personal faith and everything we harvest for the kingdom is affected by the unity of the trunk’s core.

“Every marriage holds the promise of a harvest yet unrealized.”

So often we keep running hard after “our” calling. Meaning to spur on our spouse, while they do “their” thing. What would it look like if we really became ONE? In heart and vision and passion. What would come of the Matthew 18:19 principle if spouses joined forces in prayer for the same things at the same time every day? What if we laid down our personal dreams for a bigger one?

What if unity in the church – that seemingly unreachable hope we all keep grasping for – really started with unity in our homes?

What if renewed marriages could renew churches, and then cities and then nations with the GLORY OF GOD?

power of reconciliation  green

Yeah – UNITY – it brings blessing. The running over kind. (Psalm 133)

It’s not an easy call: unity. It’s not an easy task: self-less living. It’s why so many marriages are closing the book on hope today. Here is the good news -

He can always write a new story.

John and Lisa are candid about theirs….and the words of hope that can change a marriage.

Vision: The book will invite you to close your natural eyes and look into the supernatural, where the dreams of God for you are bigger than you’ve ever hoped to believe. Favorite quote here:

“Your natural circumstances will ultimately be determined by your spiritual vision, and marriage is no exception.”

Honor: If your life lacks blessing and multiplication, John and Lisa will challenge you to see what happens when you focus on honoring your spouse.

Redemption: In no other book or marriage material have I seen practical prayers like this. Forgiveness, wholeness, healing from past sins – ALL waiting for your lips to believe in prayer. I’d seen prayers to rebuke generational curses, but never a prayer to separate from soul ties that either marriage partner made with another person prior to the marriage through emotional or physical connection.

Service: The truth ringing throughout the book….it’s a Christ-given principle. All authority is given that we might serve others…and the lower we bend, the higher He takes us. When service infiltrates your marriage, there is nowhere to go but up.

Purpose: Just like Moses and the exodus, it’s not all about our call and our lives. “God’s will always includes the generations to come.” Our covenant is about more than faithfulness or even our own godly offspring. Your  marriage is bigger than you think. Can you believe for more?

Many have broken marriages today. Many let the failed relationships of the past define their future. This is not the heart of God. He is about making all things NEW.

There are words of hope here – in this message, for those in broken places. John and Lisa speak gentle truth and loving promises from God. God can redeem your story. He can rewrite the chapters of your life.

I’ll be coming back to this book, again and again, for a breath of fresh air and renewed purpose. Join me in seeking the heart of God for the most important earthly relationship you will ever have.

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For those who are single, God’s plan is just as BIG for you! When he joins two people in marriage, they become one…but we all share His call to advance His kingdom for the next generations. Be encouraged in His love and His unique call for each season. He is faithful.

I’m linking up today with Holly and Beth and Meredith to encourage lives in Christ. Blessings!

We Can. We Must. We Will.

Two years ago I drove through the neighborhood of my small town…and it came out like a whisper.

This is when you can know the Holy Spirit is doing the praying…..it wasn’t even on your radar before it hit your lips.

“Lord, give me a heart for the poor.”

And, now, two years of restless sleep and ideas and busy mornings raising itty bitties….He is nudging me to begin. To live out that which He started in me on that bumpy road on a hot summer day.

God can change your everything with one simple prayer.

So I’ve been writing down big words and gathering my troops. Because here’s what I said to Him…

You know I can’t do all of this by myself. These new projects – this brave thing.

And my chest felt a burning and my thoughts came back:

“I know. You better get your team.”

And just like God to confirm a thought Spirit-given in His word on the very same day. A yummy feasting in Isaiah I just couldn’t put down.

“Look to Abraham, your father…when I called him, he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many.” Isa. 51:2

The idea of collaboration – it came from Him. Community – birthed in Him. Ministry as a team – lived out by Him.

A team with the same nudging. The same hunger for the hungry. To feed them with more than the sacks of groceries and the Christmas toys. To enter into a new season of brave relationships. To try new things and fail. To get uncomfortable. So that when we continue to offer that cold cup of water as the physical answer to the call of Christ, it’s only to wet the tongue of an indwelling spirit alive in Christ.

Then, just to add flame to the burning fire, that chapter of Isaiah talks about justice. How His justice will become a light to the nations.

Yes, yes it will.

God is always doing a new thing. And inviting us to join Him. So all people will feast on the bread broken and sip from the cup he carried and join the procession on that great big day.

And the day I make my plan, I walk into the room where my daughter is watching My Little Pony. Justice is my word of that day. And even a cartoon can nudge you.

The group of ponies is scared. There is an obstacle ahead and they shrink back. Then the leader steps forward and says,

We can do it.

We must do it.

We will do it.

And I smile and whisper, “Yes, Lord. We can. We must. We will. For you.”

The word today is begin. Let’s do it together. Going out in teams for Christ to love the world.

Linking up today with #FiveMinuteFriday where we write for five minutes from the heart. Join us!

 

If Only There Were Someone: A Journey Into Grace

I can picture his calloused, blistered hands attaching the breast piece and overlaying an ephod. With deep breaths, he puts on his robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash.

He was one of the very few. Chosen. To enter in.

Every morning he had to check the fires. Adjust the wood just right – keep the flames going. God required this – every. single. morning. His hands evidence of his daily task.

“Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.” Lev. 6:12-13

And then once a year – because he was a high priest, he walked beyond the second curtain. He was a priest in the tribe of Levi, the only men able to approach God…and plead mercy.

Can you imagine? The heavy weight on the chest as the wind of God’s presence HIT you just touching that curtain.

He may have gotten used to the stench. Of burning bulls and the blood spilled out. But I imagine his hands shook just a little….every time.

He knew “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb. 9:22) And he knew he needed it. We all do.

There are still shaky hands today. Reaching out for the curtain to find God. Years and years of sins and offerings later. Trying to make it to noon without tipping the bottle……or moving the mouse to click on that flashing picture on the screen.

Sin – guilt – repentance. Repeat.

Sin has always been crouching at our door, gnawing away at our minds. And the guilt today is as serious as it was in the tabernacle days. It leads to death; it must have blood.

Some of us are keenly aware. Living from guilt to guilt. Reading posts and verses about freedom but living a double life. Doing what we don’t want to do, over and over again.

“I did it again, Lord.”

Our knees hit the floor and we ask Him —-again —do you have enough mercy —for ME?

When even the edges of my sin nature are caught by the light of His glory, there is a great chasm.

This is when conviction can lead to despondency. We fight to fix ourselves and fail miserably….with all our good deeds and such. (The usual routine of the “good” Christian soul)

What is this offering I keep laying down, handing over, milling with my hands? This good thing or the effort to do no wrong. Because this is most tiring of all ——–> Trying to be GOOD ENOUGH.

Good enough.

For Him. For others. For ourselves.

What if there was another way to live this life?

Moving beyond sin maintenance and beating ourselves up and wondering all the time if He is really deep down disappointed in us?

What if there really was another way beyond the curtain? Into the most intimate room with God and a life of peace for our own souls? What if the checklist could be burned on the altar? What if we were already enough?

Even Job – the man God considered blameless and upright – he asked “if only…”

With no New Testament to read or new covenant in his heart, years before the life of Christ, Job needed someone to come between his sin and the presence of a holy God.

 “He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court.

If only….

If only there were someone…

to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot. ” Job 9:32-35

“….so that His terror would frighten me no more.”

Because what “a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:31)

So Christ- our Someone- laid His hands upon us all by stretching them out on a tree. He lifted His hands to the Father and carried the cup of our condemnation with his own blistered hands, worn from woodworking and stone cutting…..and we are still trying to come up with our own clean offerings.

“by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Heb. 10:14

made perfect

Note – those in Christ – you ARE PERFECT in Him. You can’t get any better than the righteousness of Christ covering you.

Note – those who have yet to believe – believe in Him today!

The next step – the holy making – a day by day changing from glory to glory – that’s His business too. We obey, one brave day, one brave yes at a time.

 It’s so tiring to try and complete something He started in the first place: our sanctification.

What does it look like to LIVE in the palm of those hands? To actually believe we are righteous by faith alone?

What would it really mean if we found ourselves whole in Him? Could this revelation of grace – wouldn’t it – push us into the arms of justice? Fighting for the grace of others. Empower us to leave the dark corners we hunker down in to offer a deep soul drink to the thirsty.

Wouldn’t it remove competition? The need for a great name? With this astounding love of the Saving Name.

Would it remove fear? Because love drives out fear and the receiving of unmerited grace is a shocking kind of love.

Would it change our thinking – about others? Because we know grace had nothing to do with who we are or what we’ve done but WHO HE IS and what HE DID.

What if we could really SEE that Someone – the living Christ we fix our eyes on - in every living soul we pass?

Like my three-year old son, who passed a shirtless, shoeless, bearded man at the park and said,

“Look, Mommy, …..God.”

(Be still my heart)

“Yes, honey. I see Him too.”

I’m interested in the LIVING OUT OF GRACE. The knowing and believing that leads to practical actions in our world.

Because freedom is only honored when we do something about it.

Real grace – understood – does not lead to self-indulgence. This living free in sin because we know we are forgiven. No. Authentic grace received is seen in ripe ready fruit offered to another and another and another. It’s seen in a desire to live for Him. Not a have to. A want to.

There is a real freedom in this new implanted desire. When those sins, those inklings to chase after the pleasures of this world become like the most bitter taste to the mouth. When your heart pounds for righteousness one victory over sin at a time.

And when the checklist has been burned on the altar and we rise from the ashes of all our rag offerings – we open our eyes to something new and unexpected. Something we thought we had to figure out and study and understand.

His JOY is our strength.

 This is worth talking about, learning.

What kind of strength can be found over sin and complacency and guilt and condemnation by entering into His JOY?

And how does accepting grace unlock the door to that joy?

What does it practically mean to LIVE OUT the GRACE of GOD? I’m interested in that.  Are you? Like my new Facebook group. Let’s talk about practical grace. Inside the church walls and all over the world. What are you learning about grace? Tweet your response with #gracelivedout. And follow along here on the blog to let your heart ponder just how much grace He has for you….and what that might mean for the way you live this one chance life.

Linking up today with Meredith at #w2w Wednesday and Holly @ Coffee for the Heart and Beth @ Three Word Wednesday and Jennifer @ #TellHisStory Join us. Blessings!

 

 

Raise Your Ebenezer

Here we are again, Lord. I’m going to need a bigger rock this time.

ebenezer

You just keep showing up to help me.

“While Samuel was offering the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the LORD thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites.” 1 Sam 7:10

While he was sacrificing the burnt offering.

And I just stayed in your Word, asking, hoping, choosing to believe.

As we continue in obedience, worship Him, do just what we know to do, God is routing our enemies.

See, God – He comes at just the right time. He is never early, and never late.

And our prayers go on in the night and we wonder where our God is. The Israelites needed Him desperately.

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us.’

So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade the Israelites again.” 1 Sam. 7:12-13

“Thus far…”

Yes, thus far He has been our God. Thus far, He has provided. Thus far, He has surprised us with His goodness. So THIS TIME – He will again.

And He did.

So I pulled out my little marker and my Ebenezer stone – to remember. To run my hand upon the smooth rock on the longer days, when I doubt His presence, His coming to help me.

Ebenezer = “stone of help”

Samuel raised and set down and declared his Ebenezer.

So I will lift high the ROCK, from which I have been cut. (Isaiah 51:1) The stone the builders rejected. And we keep piling our stones to build our own names.

May they all – every gift, every dream, every desire now be as an offering to Him and His GREAT NAME.

One stone upon another set forth from our lives as a declaration…..

“He is faithful.”

There is always a reason for the waiting. The timing. His completion.

Here we see that what God was doing in Israel was about more than one nation.

It’s always so much bigger than us, our stories and our people.

“The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to her, and Israel delivered the neighboring territory from the power of the Philistines.” vs. 14

He restores us that we might restore others.

And every thing about how He delivers and who He uses and what we need to learn matters to our future ministry. The people in the right places, the order of all things.

He is routing our enemies. He has heard our prayers.

He is our DELIVERER.

“No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those who hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” Ps. 33: 16-20

Thus far, He has helped me. He will not fail. Glory be to His Name.

I’m linking up today with Holly at #TestimonyTuesday. Blessings!

 

On Starting Today to Finish Strong

So I joined the Bloom book study this summer. First-timer. A happy one at that. And upon finishing The Pursuit of an Intentional Life by Jean Fleming, the highlights alone could keep me pondering a night away.

She spoke of stewarding God’s revelations well. A note to my heart….where His whispers are kept.

She spoke of finishing well, of a life we all have just one chance to live.

And lately, like over the last couple of years, I’ve struggled with finishing anything. Any. thing.

There’s this restless place in me – a wondering. (read wandering) I ask people what is wrong with me. Why I can’t make the smallest decisions regarding ministry. Certainly no big ones. Lately, I can’t even decide which Bible study to lead. And I have felt time slipping away, like watching a fast moving hourglass – my life this one chance – my time precious.

As if it’s my time.

And then – like a flash – that took forever and came so quickly – He spoke. And I obeyed. In one small way.

And here’s the thing: when we obey in just one thing we know, He opens the next door. Sometimes it’s revelation. A needed change in the heart. Sometimes, direction for action.

In my case, both.

And this is where I thank my God that His ideas are SO MUCH BETTER than my good ideas.

And that all along – this restlessness with the small ideas – was because He had something bigger.

Isn’t that how our God works?

So I stepped out today through the second door. I started my brave thing. It’s so much bigger than  me, and I’m thankful.

It’s about time I get out of His way and let Him finish some things. And start some new ones.

Because “the advancement of the gospel is greater than our individual lives.” – J. Fleming

 

I’m linking up tonight – for the very first time – on Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker and some gals who have blessed my heart through reading. Happy to join the writers tonight and offer Lisa-Jo love for her long-time stewardship in this community.

 

Teachers of the Word: Listen

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“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” Isaiah 50:4

1. He has given you an instructed tongue.

Instructed: furnished with and restricted in action by specific instructions; ordered by informed authority.

He Himself will set the truth in our hearts; He furnishes the very truths we are to share. He also restricts.

There are teachings the Spirit must work out in us. Some words only for you- for a time. The word we truly wrestle with- within- and learn to live out is a greater word when taught. Allow the Spirit to direct when you share and when you await the appointed time.

He has put the words in your mouth. (Isaiah 51:16) Trust in His Spirit to lead you.

2. You must awaken morning by morning to listen and obey

“The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.” Isaiah 50:5

To receive due instruction, we must listen. Daily. Pressing into His presence.

Some words are hard to hear. Even harder to teach. This is not a time to shrink back. He is calling his prophets to ARISE, his children to proclaim Him.Our time is short, His Word is true. So we must spend time with Him.

The greatest teachers of the WORD are ardent students of God.

3. You must not fear the reproach of man.

“Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults.” (Isaiah 51:7)

Speakers/writers of the truth of God will be insulted. The world will press in. As T.D. Jakes once said, “the more people who love you; the more people who hate you.”

The narrow road is still under His protection. He covers you with the shadow of His hand. (Isaiah 51:16) We cannot be afraid to speak the truth. You can offer grace and still speak truth.

4. Set your face like a flint.

Remaining in the Word – the Sword of truth in a world of untruth – has everything to do with your strength in Him. Black and white are merging today – GRAY IS EVERYWHERE. We must know the HOPE we profess so we can rightly divide and rightly proclaim. We can no longer assume all believers know the word, or even open it. We cannot take for granted the urge – His calling – to put forth counsel from the WHOLE Word of God.

This is how you FIX your eyes on Him. Stay in His Word. Devour it like it is your last meal. And may we spur one another on as we strive to live it out. We cannot teach well what we do not live. And that – is why we need each other.

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“You are my witnesses..” declares the Lord.

May we seek Him in the morning and listen like ones being taught. He has much to teach us, that we might bear His truth to the world.

May our prayer today be, “Give me a teachable spirit, O Lord, and I will obey.”

We are Better Together

“Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword.,,,,,

the world was not worthy of them……

…these were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that ONLY TOGETHER with us would they be made perfect.” Heb. 11:36-40

Something better. Only TOGETHER.

What is this unity abounding, weaving its way through Scripture? Even in the final days – the glory days He has yet to fulfill. Not just for today. In the church. Within this generation.

He is saving the great reward for ONE BIG DAY.

When we can all be together in His House for the Big Reveal.

God likes togetherness.

group of women

We’ve heard this before. How two are better than one. And Satan will keep pushing back, isolating souls into the weary corner.

Whispering loud of the hurts we have lived, the lack of trust, the ease of sinking back down into the closed doors.

The Lord knows community is not easy. Relationships are tattered. People are faulty. He walked among us. They deserted Him too.

Yet Christ, like Paul, put no confidence in the flesh. Only perfect confidence in His ability to redeem the soul. Of every man.

And even redeemed souls stumble in community. But we also stumble alone – even more so. And the hand that is helped up more quickly – is the one already outstretched.

 We are better together – not only in our falling. But in our rising. Lifting the weight of the cross, each of us a corner piece, raising high the truth of Christ.

When praise of man tempts us with pride, together we are accountable.

When the call of God seems unsure, together we find courage.

When the world screams loud the voice of hate, together we kneel in humble love.

So then….

“If you have ANY encouragement from being united in Christ, if ANY comfort from his love, if ANY fellowship with the Spirit, if ANY tenderness and compassion…”

——Have any of those precious things?—–

“then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Phil. 2:1-4

Consider others better than yourselves.

Then come to the table of fellowship. Share your “ANY”s with us. My hand is outstretched.

Let’s do life together.

Linking up with Meredith and Holly and Beth and Rebekah today. Join us! Blessings!