Forecast for Rain

Forecast for Rain

Isaiah 55:8-10 (NKJV) “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

The forecast is for rain. My plan to head the beach is nixed. A little rain is one thing but the weather app is forecasting thunderstorms. No thank you! My husband who had planned some yardwork today is watching the sky closely. The ground is still soaked from last night’s showers. The air is hot and humid with the front that is moving in. What an inconvenience after working all week, the messiness of natural interrupting my plans. Rain is important. It is vital to production in the earth. The grass would not be green without water. The replenishment of the earth that keeps us all well-hydrated yet in its abundance is loathed and often disregarded as a problem. I wonder what would happen if we decided to welcome the rain. To thank God for its arrival, productivity and potential. What if we didn’t identify it as an interruption but part of God’s Magnificent and Perfect Plan? To declare, “Lord, we receive your rain today!”

The separation of natural and supernatural revelation is not appropriate. The God of Heaven is indeed God of the earth. He set this place in order and pre-recorded a plan including the wind, rain and storms of life. From a full force hurricane to a light sprinkling – God is the one who sends us the rain. Each droplet holds purpose and potential to water our seed and grow its promise every single time. The grass is drenched and mowing unlikely today. The hydrangeas in the flowerbed love it when the soil is wet. They are flourishing in the showers that seem to pop up every day. Right outside the dining room window – where just on the other side are rows of succulents that are bending toward the sun. They do not care for rain and rely on my careful watering every once and a while. They would surely die outside in the torrential downpours that we have been experiencing so they live in tiny pots.

What does your life resemble today? Is thick, green, leafy and covered with blooms growing and producing in abundance under the open heavens of God’s Outpouring? Or like the little succulents in small restricted containers dependent on mankind to stay alive growing only slightly in the same amount of time? It is all about position and perspective – I guess. God’s Word cannot and will not return to Him void. It will do exactly as He intended it to do. It must accomplish its purpose before coming back to Him.

Job 36:26-28 (NKJV) “Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His years be discovered. For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man.”

Am I the only one who thinks it’s crazy that Job could describe the process of rain production by God without modern technology? He knew that God draws up drops of water stores it in the clouds to be moved released again. Think about it. God supplied the water – springs, rivers, streams and then eventually rain. Rain was not an afterthought. It had a time and place. The imagery of God’s Word is demonstrated to us every time it rains. God’s Word is released and it must achieve its work. Replenish. Renew. Restore. Rejuvenate. It is then taken back up to the heavens and poured out again and again. God’s Word is likened to the rain. It is described as water. The washing of the Word is what replenishes, renews, restores and rejuvenates us.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it was devastating. Through the long process and journey to a miracle, it was God’s Word that kept me standing from beginning to end. Entering the realm of hope when modern medicine could not save him and insurance would not even try – it was the most devastating and divine moment of my life. The storm destroyed me in many ways and God restored me in more ways than the pieces of my broken heart and life resembled. I am not thankful for what cancer did to our child, but I am absolutely thankful for what the storm did for me. Only those who have endured a hurricane or tsunami within can understand these words that I am sharing.

Matthew 5:43-47 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

We are quick to blame the enemy when the seasonal rain does not seem favorable. Too much, too little, not the right time or too inconvenient. What if the rain has nothing to do with our life externally but internally? Jesus was talking about forgiveness and loving the unlovable when He interjects this tiny tidbit…”for He makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and unjust.” What if God is allowing the sprinkles to wash over you or downpour to move you to release the potential inside of you? The Lord has already told us not to worry or get stressed about provision going as far to remind us that we have every spiritual blessing already. Where is it? What if it is locked inside of you as seed that needs some good rain to get the process underway? Prosperity is always precipitated by an abundance of rain.

Genesis 9:12-17 (NKJV)  And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

When it was time to start chemotherapy and radiation for our son, while driving to the hospital (about two hours away) it was raining. Not a downpour, but rather a light shower with the sun still shining, though a bit hard to see through my tears. With worship music playing softly, I saw a rainbow. A few tears turned into immediate sobbing, God was reminding me that He was here. He was telling me that cancer had no power over the healer. We would win the battle just remember who I am and that I am with you. He was showing me His Love all over again. Now that would be cool enough, right? But in the course of the next two hours of travel, I saw more rainbows along the interstate than I have experienced in my lifetime. I stopped counting every time I turned around there was another one. God is faithful to His Word. He keeps His Promises. His rainbow just another reminder that though the storms of life may come even big ones that His Love is unfailing and goodness for sure.

Psalm 84:5-11 (NKJV) Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of  Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Yesterday it felt like there was a little black raincloud over my head. You know just one of those days. I have not a single thing to worry or stress about yet I was doing it anyway. I have no reason to be ruled by chaos because I have perfect peace yet I was a bit frazzled. My blessings are too many to count – believe me I tried to enumerate them to silence the complaining in my head. Just a day covered in a bit of melancholy, everyone has them. I was in a funk. We all face storms in life. There will always be rain coming. It falls on the just and unjust because God loves and desires us all. He wants to renew, restore, and revive us. He wants us to thrive in His Courts rather than being locked in self-imposed cells offered by wayward thoughts and inner rebellion. There is a place to thrive for those who are merely surviving. When rain comes, it is human nature to run for shelter. This should be our spiritual inclination as well. His Ways are higher than our ways along with His Thoughts. His Word and His Way is better than anything we can think, ask or imagine. We want what God has for us whether we realize it or not. There must be rain. We must learn to welcome the rain while hiding in the shelter of His Presence.

Psalm 147:5-8 (NKJV) Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, Who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.

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Mighty Warrior

Mighty Warrior

I Corinthians 15:57 (NIV) But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you feel victorious today? Like a mighty warrior, who celebrates the spoils of overcoming winning, do you live a confident life in Jesus Christ? God has given us celebratory victory in Jesus Christ, His Son. The ability to engage, encounter and execute His Power and Authority on the earth until He returns or we are giving the opportunity to go to Him. I do not believe that the church fully understands the concept of habitual freedom that comes from a new life in Christ that overcomes the world. Cowering in corners and compromising confinement in the lie of the enemy that this is how it will always be and there is just not enough power in the Blood. Did I get your attention? Did that rile something within you that I would dare insult the Blood of Jesus Christ as to insinuate a loss of power or potential? There is power in the Blood of Jesus Christ to break every chain and stronghold in your life. However, it is up to each one of us to commit our confidence to it. To believe that there is power in the Blood is exemplified when we live according to the authority of Jesus Christ and exercise it here on earth.

I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV) Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Why do Christians struggle with complacency and compromise in life? It’s simple. We lack confidence in Jesus Christ. If we believed that God has given us victory in His Son, Jesus, don’t you think we would chase after it wholeheartedly? My family has attended many college football games in our hometown. The passion displayed by the other sports fans and fervency of their desire to win is displayed first in their commitment to attend the games, tailgating, participating in all the fight songs, cheering on the offensive line, coaching the defense, yelling at the coaches and even taunting the other team. Standing on their feet to the final seconds tick off the clock, screaming wildly for the win and completely devastated by loss. Do we have the same commitment to victory in Christ? Our team has won a lot and currently is experiencing the worse season I can remember yet still fans spend inordinate and endless amounts of effort and expense just to stand behind their favorite team. How does our enthusiasm for such things compare to our commitment to Christ and the victory promised by God to us? “Let nothing move you.”

Always give yourselves fully to the workplace, hobbies, and people…wait no it says…always give yourselves full to the work of the Lord, because YOU KNOW that your labor is not in vain. Our commitment to Jesus Christ is based solely on our ability to trust and believe He has won the victory over death and the grave. If our Savior and Lord was willing to suffer and die on the Cross to save, heal and deliver us – why in the world would He leave us helpless and defenseless on the earth? He wouldn’t. He didn’t. You are a mighty warrior.

2 Samuel 23:8 (NIV) These are the names of David’s mighty warriors…

David had thirty-seven mighty men who fought by his side. Three of these men were his leaders. Josheb-Basshebeth, Eleazar and Shammah who were his elite companions. I believe that there is a lesson to be learned from these warriors.

2 Samuel 23:8 (NIV) Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.

The chief of these three was Josheb-Basshebeth who demonstrated the prize of endurance. He raised his spear against 800 men and killed them all in one encounter. How many times do we give up in the middle of battle? Abandoning God’s Promise of victory and settling for less than complete overcoming in any situation. Jesus said that the one who endures to the end will be saved. Maybe we do not have victory simply because we do not fight through the encounter but at some point look for an escape or make our own way. I believe that the Lord has promised to give us victory and complete satisfaction in every situation. Perhaps endurance is the missing essential?

2 Samuel 23:9-10 (NIV) Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

Eleazar was with David when he was being taunted by the enemy. The enemy was ready for battle and so was Eleazar. When the rest of the army retreated, he stood his ground. Eleazare persevered though his hand grew tired and froze to his sword. The Lord brought Him great victory that day. What do you do when others abandon the cause? Do you press in and persevere? Holding tightly to God’s Word and fighting for the promise? When everyone chooses their own way do you press and persevere to do it His Way? Eleazar did not abandon his earthly lord and His Heavenly Lord handed victory right into his hand and the spoils of victory as well.

2 Samuel 23:11-12 (NIV) Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.

Shammah stood on his promise. He would not abandon his harvest (lentils) to the enemy. The enemy in our life comes to steal, kill and destroy. God has promised us an abundant harvest. A promise and purpose of fulfillment worth having (Jeremiah 29) and a future worth fighting for. Will you defend your promise today? Will you stand and fight on the foundation of faith with the sword of the Spirit and confidence in God’s Word? He has given us victory and along with winning every other harvest and prize that is promised to those who remain faithful. Do you believe today that overwhelming victory belongs to you? A gift from God through His Son Christ? You are a mighty warrior. Strong and courageous. Ready for battle. The Son of the Living God lives in you and has achieved full authority over death and the grave making you unstoppable. So what’s stopping you today?

I John 5:3-5 (NIV)  In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Faith in God is demonstrated through obedience and service to His Son, Jesus Christ. To believe that He is worthy of our allegiance is to serve Him. In 2 Samuel 23, it also tells the story of the three mighty warriors risking life and limb just to give David a drink from a well in Bethlehem. The only thing standing between them and fulfilling the desire of their leader was an army of giants. The three men left the protection of the garrison to get the cup of water. They broke enemy lines just to bring David a single cup of water. Father, forgive us for all the times we give you less than our very best.

Love for the Lord is keeping His Commands which to those who truly have affection for Him do not find burdensome. It is in this obedience and commitment to Christ that we overcome the world. Is your faith worth fighting for? It absolutely is. Faith pleases God. In fact without it, you cannot please God in any other effort. Victory for the believer is total faith and confident trust in the hope we are given. Faith is worth fighting for. The harvest of fulfillment only feeds our confidence and strengthens our arm to praise Him during the battle and keeps our knees from becoming weak in prayer and fasting. Why abandon the promises of God so easily? We fall for the lie of the enemy because it is easily rationalized by our flesh allowing us to maintain our pride. To be a mighty warrior and secure the victory I have been given requires endurance, perseverance and faithfulness. To have overcoming power active and effective in my life is to become immersed in His Grace and live there. Less of me and more of Him. It is not the life for everyone yet the Lord includes everyone in the call to victory. Whosoever will let them come! He wants to help you live a victorious overcoming life. Do you trust Him today? Enough to fight for your faith. Endure through tough times. Persevere when abandoned. Defend the harvest the Lord has promised. Those who do will become mighty warriors.

John 16:33 (NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Undignified Worship

Undignified Worship

Psalm 30:11-12 (NIV) You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

When our oldest daughter married a couple of years ago, her wedding was truly a celebration. After months of planning and preparing, her big day finally came. It was clear that everyone was intent on making the most of it. Not only did it mark the end of a courtship turned into a covenant, but it also was the end of the long treacherous road to her brother’s battle against cancer. When dinner was over and the music started, no one could have imagined the celebration that would begin. The carefully set tables would be pushed aside, shoes were flying, ties and jackets discarded. It was quite undignified from that moment on. The DJ said that he had never seen such a reception without alcohol. God is good!

Sitting on the front row on the cold November day, I turned to watch our bride walk with her handsome dad to meet her groom who had dissolved into tears at the sight of her. I was holding it together quite well at this point thanks to a mixture of exhaustion and mascara keeping me intact. But when she reached her destination, I panned the wedding party to find that all my beautiful children were standing before me. Handsome and beautiful, as well as, healed and whole. The enemy tried to take one of my sons but the Lord saw it fit to give me another. God is good!

Today as I think about the wedding reception, I remember the relief that it actually went off without a hitch. Wedding planning and preparation is stressful. Bringing two families together is difficult even when everyone is saved and sanctified. But in that moment, everyone in that place danced together. It didn’t matter if they were from the bride’s side or the groom’s side. I wonder if we should be dancing more as believers as I ponder the moment. I wonder if our faith gets stifled inside of us at the thought of a display considered a bit undignified. Faith without works is dead according to the Word of God. I wonder if redemption without celebration is dead, too. I wonder if we sing but don’t move beyond lip service to celebration if we have missed it.

I Peter 1:6-9 (NIV)  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Genuineness of faith is expressed in inexpressible and glorious joy. It is the salvation of our souls. Working out our salvation is a God process and our surrender to His Will and Way for us. Obedience is not a mundane following of a mediocre God. When obedience begins in our heart making its way to our hands, our soul begins to prosper and so will the productivity of our life. It matters what drives our actions and attitudes in life. If I treat others better than myself, yet secretly have hate or prejudice against them in my heart – all good deeds are fruitless. Love is the bottom line in all things. My husband and I have been married almost two decades. We have had great times and difficult seasons yet the prevailing commitment between us is always upheld by our love for Jesus first and then each other. It allows us to wake up each morning and find joy in each other even if we were at odds last night. This is the care over of faith in life. No matter what happens – the Lord gives us new mercy each morning to keep hope alive in our hearts.

Our love for the Lord should produce joy in our life that is more than just words. Singing a song comes from memory but when it causes us to lift our hands, tears running down our face, or even leads us to an altar then our praise made it into our heart. If my praise is rehearsed, I wonder if my life may be too. Habit rather than holiness. If my worship is dry, I wonder if my heart is hard and barren. When declaring His Great Name, does it press me to draw closer or do I tend to remain self-controlled. Where are the David’s who choose to dance before the Lord in an “undignified” state? Are they hiding from the Michal’s?

2 Samuel 6:14-17 (NIV) Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord.

The Lord will not force us to love Him with all of our heart. He will not force us to praise and worship His Holy Name. He provides new mercy and plenty of grace that allows us to step into righteousness and ushers us into His Presence. When will we come as David did, “dancing before the Lord with all his might”? David was leaping and dancing before the Lord as the Ark of the Lord was brought to the city. The Ark represented the Presence of God. The Spirit of the Living God now lives in us. Are we expressing the precious treasure invested in us to the watching world? Why not? Michal was David’s wife. She worshipped idols not the one true Living God. She was embarrassed by her husband and king’s ridiculous behavior. David was a man after God’s Own Heart. It did not stop him from worshipping the Lord openly. What is stopping me? What is stopping you? When God moves on our heart, why do we refuse to move?

Joshua 6:2-5(NIV) Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

Six days of silently marching around a solid wall seemed silly to those who did not understand. On the seventh day, when the people broke out into a giant praise break, the enemy must have been very confused. There was no battle. There was no fight. However, through careful obedience the walls of Jericho fell completely flat. Could it be that in our mundane praise and mediocre worship that we have limited the Lord in bringing down the strongholds of our life and breaking all the chains? We are at the wall chiseling and hammering at it but God is telling us to stand back it will fall flat. Faith doesn’t mean fighting our own battles. Faith is believing that God has given us the victory. Waiting on it. Watching for it. It means praising God today for the victory that is coming tomorrow. It is to allow Him to heal the heart hurting from past battles and overwhelming storms. We must find our way to praise the Lord with all of our might again to bring down every stronghold and set all the captives free.

Psalm 8:1-2 (NIV) Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

True and valid faith will not allow us to live in the doldrums of life. In fact, according to Psalm 8, it is through praise of children and infants that God places a barrier of protection around our life. What does our praise and worship tell the next generation? Does it portray the Living God who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Are we showing them that faith is worth it? I want my children to love and serve God. If my witness to them that it leads to a mediocre life, will they want to know Him personally? Jesus wants to set our soul free today to prosper. He desires to give you inexpressible joy that cannot bear to be contained. It is not a change in circumstances, but rather a heart change. One that doesn’t base praise and worship on how we feel about life but our love for God and His Son, Jesus alone.

Psalm 149:3-9 (NIV) Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them—this is the glory of all his faithful people.

What would happen if our life was characterized by undignified worship every day? What if rather than complaining with praised the Lord for His Faithfulness? What if rather than taking matters into our own hands, we lifted those same hands to surrender all to the Lord each day? What would happen if our live was devoted to praising the Lord in all things and blessing His Holy Name? What if our praise and worship made its way out of the four walls called church and became the premise of each temple (we are the temples of the Holy Spirit)? I am challenged today to undignified worship. The kind that gets the enemy’s attention. It says that “praise of God can be a double-edged sword” in our hands. The Word of God gives credibility to our worship as it is the foundation of faith that produces hope in us. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness to find something…anything praiseworthy and boast of the God in us. We will never be truly free until faith in the Son of God sets us totally free. Prison doors open with praise, strongholds come down with worship, and chains fall off when we life our hands to the Lord. God has given us victory and the power to overcome in all things. Undignified worship will release it in our life.

Psalm 30:4-5 (NIV) Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Tiny Cracks

white flower growing on crack street, soft focus.

Luke 6:47-49 (NIV)

“As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

 

We have lived in our house more than ten years. I remember when it was just a few cinder blocks with plumbing pipe shooting up out of the ground. I love it then and I love it now. I can still recall the day I pulled up to find the finishing touches all in place. It was perfect in every way. In awe of the Goodness of God, it seems like the waves of grace move continually over me at the revelation that God is good all the time and blesses us far beyond our comprehension. However, over time, the house was broken in. With kids and pets and life, the once pristine walls and surfaces show a bit of age. If you look closely at the floors, there are tiny cracks here and there as the house has settled over the years. Some houses develop major foundation issues with settling cracks. Others fall into large sinkholes beneath the foundation as the earth moves and shifts with time. It is important the foundation of our life. This house is just a building constructed by the hands of man. The home inside it is a work of God. Sometimes I forget to separate the two. My house is not my family. It is our souls bound together in love and harmony that have grown into the unity we have now. The love expressed by each person has formed a solidified bond that the storms of life and fiery trials could not destroy. The foundation of our home and life is Jesus Christ.

 

As I have prepared the house to put it on the market, I was more and more aware of the settling cracks that had formed in different places. How long had they been there? When did they begin to come apart? Though nothing major and totally acceptable in sound construction, I am aware of them. I don’t like the way they look. I don’t want others to see them either. I wonder if we form tiny cracks in the foundation of our life when we become comfortable and settle some over life. You know when our pursuit of God becomes a marathon rather than a furious foot chase. When our passion cools to a low boil and our soul simmers with a slight hint of complacency. When other things begin to take the place of time spent bonding with the Lord and spending time in His Presence. I am turning 50 this year. I am seeing some tiny lines and wrinkles that were not there just the other day. While my age does not concern me, but rather a testimony of survival, I am beginning to notice changes in my appearance and even in my personality that seems attributable to the passage of time. I must also examine my heart, my mind and my soul to see if the foundation of my life is intact. I am entering a new season. No, I am not looking back. Nor am I looking ahead, no today I am looking inside.

 

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV)

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

 

It makes me laugh how the Lord leads me into these conversations. This morning, I came to the Lord needing peace. My heartfelt desire was His Perfect Peace. Once you have experienced the Peace of God, it is very difficult to live any other way. You know that there is a better way. It took a huge storm and massive trial for me to discover the Rock I have found in Jesus Christ. He keeps in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you. My peace does not come from me or the conditions of my life – but is found solely in the Lord. I know that. I do not always remember it or live according to it but the Truth remains regardless of my response. But sometimes we do not move on to the next verse, which would only make sense that when the Lord offers us something, surely He will tell us how to attain it. Maybe we want God’s Promises but forsake and forgo His Plan. I know because I do it, too.

 

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, THE LORD HIMSELF, is the Rock eternal. Notice how it is repeated within His Statement – for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock. Our life is a building process. We are establishing our existence in Jesus Christ. There is no peace found in life worth having outside of our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. We can try to find security by being responsible and building a good life for us and our family, but unless we dig just a little big deeper into the true foundation of life, we will be disappointed.

 

Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV)

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

 

Psalm 27:4, one thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life. I love this verse. It is my passion. It is my pursuit. It is my complete undoing. We do not construct anything of worth. God is the expert builder who brings dead things back to life. He is the One who takes all our broken pieces together and displays a masterpiece of beauty. He set me high upon a rock. It is in the day of trouble, trial and tragedy when the foundation of our life is put on full display. When an earthquake hits a city, the expertise of a builder and wisdom of his plan is discovered. Those who built on firm foundations leave behind something of worth. But those who did not take the time to focus on the foundation and connecting every part of the infrastructure will be revealed as homes and offices crash to the ground. This life is temporary. In those moments of shaking, are my feet set high on the rock or am I swallowed up by the cracks in my foundation?

 

Matthew 7:24-25 (NIV)

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

 

Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh and sent to live among us. To show us a new way, a better way of life beyond our five senses and inevitable death. Those who took the Word and put it into practice are considering wise builders with lives established in Christ that can withstand any storm. It will not fall for the foundation is the Rock. Stay with me…

 

Acts 7:48-51 (NIV)

“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things? “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

 

What kind of house will you build for me? We are living stones that need a good foundation to build upon. We have God’s Word. He offers to be the Cornerstone of our life. (Psalm 118:22-23) We try to build a good life with what the Lord has given us. Is it enough? Psalm 127:1-2 tells us that unless the Lord builds a house – we labor in vain. Jesus is the Cornerstone who the builders rejected. Are we still rejecting Him today? We come to Jesus and want a Savior. To build our life with Christ as the Cornerstone requires just a little bit more. We must make Him Lord. He must be the foreman of construction in the process of growth and development. We can do nothing apart from Christ. His Spirit is cultivating the things in us that are needed to firmly establish us on His Foundation…are we allowing God’s Spirit to fill in the cracks and insufficiencies in us or are we cutting corners to ease the cost, cease the labor, and create a comfortable environment?

 

Matthew 16:15-19 (NIV)

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

 

And I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will be my church. I have read this passage countless times, but I think I missed something very important. When Jesus said, this to his disciple, He was not telling Peter that he was the rock, but that the faith in him was the foundation of growth that would become His Church. The personal revelation of Jesus Christ is only the beginning, but when we acknowledge His Person as Messiah, Son of the Living God and continue to do so day by day our feet our firmly planted in faith which is the foundation of our life in Jesus Christ. Peter was not the rock but the faith evident in his profound declaration. Jesus doesn’t desire parrots chirping back at him but rather confident believers who declare who He is in their everyday life. As we continually invest every bit of time, talent and treasure in building the Kingdom by faith our life will prosper on the firm foundation. Storms will not crush us. Earthquakes will not move us. Every fiery dart from Hell will not touch us. We will be on the Rock that is higher than I. Hannah said it best in her prayer, “There is no one holy like the Lord, there is not besides you, there is no Rock like our God. Are there some cracks in your foundation today? Have little openings appeared in the midst of settling? Are you comfortable? Do you need perfect peace today? Do you want a little rest? To those who believe, the Stone is precious. (I Peter 2:7) He will be the Cornerstone of our life, if we establish our life by faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Psalm 127:1-2 (NIV)

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.

 

Our house has been on the market for many weeks now. People have paraded through it. Agents toured the rooms. Each Thursday for as long as I can remember has been “cleaning day” in our house. For the past month, it has turned into the complete purging of every room and closet. I have noticed things about the house that I didn’t notice before it went up for sale. Many little projects and small repairs that needed to be made. I can note every imperfection. We have not sold the house and I will admit I was a bit discouraged. As I cleaned last night, it was not with the usual fervor but rather just washed, vacuumed, dusted, and the like as I have every other Thursday for years. I am thankful for this house. I know that our days here are numbered. In the waiting, I have grown impatient. I asked the Lord to give me peace today. He gave me more than that as I could see the tiny cracks in my foundation, my faith if you will that needed just a little more Jesus. See my life is not a house or even the people who live in it. It is Jesus. When everything in my life is placed on the Rock, it becomes immovable, unshakeable and everlasting. Everything else has to go. See what it says in Psalm 127, unless the Lord builds my house or my life, it is all in vain. Unless the Lord watches over all transactions and interactions in my life, the “guards” stand in vain. I can get up early and worry if we will have a showing today and go to bed late wondering if this is “really” His Plan, but it too is in vain. God grants sleep (or peace) to those He loves. The cracks in my faith do not make Him love me any less but rather just make room for His Grace to be applied. His Mercy is new every morning to cover my fear, doubt and worry lines that have no place in my life because I have nothing to fear. Perfect peace is a process. The process of moving our life from reality to the Rock. Faith is the process of acquisition that allows us to have perfect peace.

 

Soon a home inspector will come to examine our house for a prospective buyer, then an appraiser will come to access its worth, Lord let us find favor with man concerning the sale of this house. But more importantly, let the Holy Spirit examine my heart today and fill any cracks in my foundation. Make my faith strong in You. Be the foundation of my life, Jesus. May I find favor with you, Lord. I give myself to You!

 

Ephesians 2:19-21 (NIV)

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

 

 

Pruning Me – A Devotion

Pruning Me

John 15:1-3 (NKJV)

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

 

There is a little crepe myrtle tree in the backyard that I rescued from the garbage many years ago. My father had been pruning several large trees in his yard and kept some branches for neighbors who wanted the same. He threw one in the car encouraging me to plant it and just see what happens. A tree happened right in my own back yard that each year produces an abundance of tiny pink flowers. We cut back all the crepe myrtles for winter just as we always do. Living in Florida, all the plants and trees struggle with the seasons because it gets really warm one day and will dive back into the freezing temperatures the next. That’s why pollen is such a problem in heavily wooded areas. Anyway, the little tree isn’t showing signs of growth yet. I am wondering if I cut it back too far this time. Did I prune it so much that now it cannot grow and produce its array as before? It has come so far from the skinny dead stick that it once was that it would be a shame to see it die after all. There is one tiny leaf that seems to be budding if you examine a limb really, really close. Lord, I pruned it but you must bring it back to life.

I have been pruned by the Lord. Our daughter and son-in-law have announced that they will be moving to New Hampshire (21 hours away) to answer the Call of God on their life at a new and upcoming church. Onset emotional overload. Like a band aid being slowly ripped off my heart, I wonder if this time Lord the cut will be too deep. I have a carefully constructed expectation of what our life would be like now with cancer behind us and the wedding done. This would be the time that we enjoyed the peace and joy that comes when our mourning is turned to dancing. It has been three tough years for our family so now I just knew that the Lord would redeem our time together. Now this… I know that it is God calling them. I know where He calls you that He equips you. I know that every need they have will be met. I know that God is going to prosper them from the inside out and reach many people with the Good News of Jesus. Five years ago our oldest son answered the call of duty and spent a year overseas. It was hard to have my heart stretched 7000 miles around the world but we made it through and the Lord brought him safely back to us. Then for three years we have fought cancer with our son, he is now cancer-free, back in school and living life. Without any recovery time, our daughter married and left the nest. Now just five months after, she will embark on a journey miles and miles from home. My heart is full of pride and expectation but in the same moment it is cut and bleeding in desperation.

The Lord is my vine. I must remain in Him to thrive and prosper in this life. God is the vinedresser. It is His Responsibility to ensure that the fruit of His Spirit burst forth from my life to satisfy my soul and complete that which He created me for. I am being pruned today as the Lord cuts through my hard and callous heart yet again to expose me to the growth potential found in surrendering all my plans and expectations to His Word, Will and Way. I not asking the Lord, “Why” these two are going. It is quite clear. They have a message in their heart of a God who saves. They want to share it with the world. They are fruit from our life being released to the world. I just want to survive being pruned.

John 15:3-4 (NKJV)
You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

 

New growth always requires removal of dead things. When the leaves reach past maturity and die, the wind whisk them away to become compost and fuel the next generation of trees. When fruit is ready for consumption, it will fall to the ground to die if not picked and consumed. The fruit bears the seeds of the future that will continue the reproductive cycle. Pruning allows us to move from season to season of life without growing comfortable in the process. Rather than living off the overripe and dying fruit of the past, God prepares us to produce new things for the future. We do not have to waste our energy, effort or resources sustaining those things which are past their season. God is always looking to prosper our soul and completely satisfy us. If we try to hold on to the past, we will live there. If we try to sustain our future with what has been provided for today, we will starve. If we refuse to surrender our life to His Pruning, we abort that which carries us into the future and forever. The more that we seek to abide in Jesus Christ, the weaker we become in our fully dependency on the Lord. His Grace is made manifest in our total weakness and complete submission to Him. It is in this place of engrafting when we can honestly say with a bleeding and exposed heart, “Not my will, but Your Will God” that we are finally going to experience His Glory in our life. It is the moment that we feel that we cannot survive in our naked and exposed state that we truly understand the necessity of full dependency on the Lord.

Deuteronomy 30:6 (NKJV)

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul that you may live.

 

When we think that we have nothing to give the Lord, He shows us what we have left. Coming into this year, I have prayed for revival and restoration in my heart and soul. It has been a long, hard and dry winter. I have exhausted all my resources to survive. I just knew that the Lord would begin to rain down in our life to refresh and renew us. This new change seems so drastic. It is fast and furious. Panic overtakes me sometimes but then peace like a river comes flowing, too. I have been very candid with the Lord. As I feel the knife poised over my heart ready to circumcise my flesh to expose His Spirit, I am not sure that I will survive. I don’t want to make this sacrifice for His Kingdom. Looking in from the outside, many would say that they are missionaries and praise God that our children are serving the Lord. Amen and amen! But when it is your kid that you are loading on a moving truck and moving across the country when you just got used to them not living in your house, you can judge me. For now, I am absolutely heartbroken that my baby is moving. Our family is close and very tight knit. We have dinner together on a regular and ongoing basis. We share our lives not just our names. I love that they love the Lord and have a heart to serve Him. But I want them in my life, too. So as we shuffle and rush to get their affairs in order with all the packing and planning that is going to be crammed into less than two weeks, I know that the Lord is working in my reluctant. The Lord is yet again circumcising and pruning my heart. His Effort is not in vain but to expose me. I want a deeper walk with Jesus. I do. I really, really do. So as I call on His Name to keep my heart from being irretrievably broken – it is with total trust that I can say it is that it is well with my soul. See I am falling apart, but in these moments it is the Lord holding me together. Who knows maybe what this is all about anyway? Less of me and more of Him. I am decreasing and He is increasing. My flesh is slowly dying giving way to more of His Spirit.

Psalm 34:17-18 (NKJV)

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

 

The Lord is near. Oh, I know that He is. He is the One who is catching my tears for His Redemption. He is the One who is making sure that they hit every seed that we have planted by faith. He knows how hard this is. He is sustaining me in my weakness. He is my Comforter in the mist of change. How do you explain a God who facilitates change and yet is our Source of comfort and peace through it all? He is a Good God. He is working out every detail of our life for Goodness and His Glory. He is the Vinedresser who is pruning my life to produce an abundance of new life. But He is no ordinary farmer, but provided the Vine who is my Source in the challenge of change. When my weakness is exposed, He becomes my strength. When I am powerless, He is all the strength that I need to hang on until His Plan falls into place. When I am broken hearted the Lord moves in closer than ever before saving those who surrender their spirit to accept His Life-Giving Spirit of Love. To know God is moving and causing discomfort, but then providing the Comfort I need to get to the other side of change is overwhelming. I cannot naturally understand how the Lord does all these things, but I know that He is.

Psalm 103:15-18 (NKJV)

As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His Covenant and to those who remember His commandments to do them.

 

I sure hope that I have not killed the little crepe myrtle in the backyard. It has been through too much to lose it now. I want to see it grow again and prosper with its array of tiny flowers. Imagine how much more the Father loves us and how He feels the same way with an even greater intensity. This is only a season of life. It may seem that we may not survive it but we will do more than survive if we remain connected to our Source of Life. His Name is Jesus. He is doing a work in our family’s life. I know it. As He prunes us – it is with purpose. We will know Him more in these moments if we run to Him rather than from the change that His Pruning is producing. I would love to talk these crazy kids out of this ridiculous move. But the truth is that I know it is God calling them. I want Jesus for my children more than anything else. So with a heavy heart, I will gather more boxes and answer more questions as I help them get ready to go. I know the Lord will sustain me as He prepares me in this season to prosper in the next. Lord, bring on spring. I am so ready to move and grow. Hold me and help me survive this season of preparation. Make me new in You!

Matthew 6:28-30 (NKJV)

 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?