When Mountains Move

When Mountains Move

Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountain fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

“The mountains quake with their surging…” I wonder what our response might be to the moving of the mountain beneath us when the Lord starts to break apart the foundation of doubt that once was our security as pride kept us in complete control. The smallest step in faith will produce a profound rumble in the ground beneath our feet. Faith is not logical. It is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen which makes it intangible. In fact, sometimes the smallest movement of faith in our life produces an avalanche of circumstances as the enemy fights to keep us from attempting another. Fear is a fortress with an unlocked door. It binds us in the dreadful expectation of something that may not ever be a reality. Faith produces a refuge in the Presence of God that endures the moving of our mountain as the earth gives way to eternity.

It seems as though the more I desire to live by faith the more uncertain life becomes. God is an ever-present help in trouble because His Spirit lives in us. The reality of God’s Love shines from those who encounter it, engage it and somehow endure to the end. It is up to me to fan the flames of His Spirit and keep the light shining brightly even on the darkest days. I must feed my faith the Word of God to continually nourish and strengthen it. I must water it with the Word to keep it supple and growing. I must protect my seed of faith from the things that want to choke it and kill it such as fear, anxiety, stress, worry and cares. Life is hard. There is no question that everyone faces difficulties in life. The outcome is determined by our response to adversity. Do I run for cover or run to my refuge. God is with us. He is working for us. He will never let us down. He must be the place of comfort and rest when the mountain starts moving.

Psalm 46:4-7 (NIV) There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Faith displaces fear in our life but doesn’t stop the world from turning. The world is headed for destruction. There are wars and rumors of war just as the Lord predicted when He was with us. Just because you have faith doesn’t change the current conditions or natural consequences in the world, it changes us. It conditions our soul, mind and body to respond to God’s Word and His Faithfulness rather than reacting to the situations faced on any given day. I didn’t realize until today that the words, “God is within her, she will not fail” were actually words of encouragement tucked in the Bible. I needed some encouragement today. If God lives in you, you will not fail. It’s true. If we could only believe that His Word is true and relevant in our life – we just might wait to see what happens.

Haggai 2:6-9 (NIV)  “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Why shake things up? I believe that the shaking is to keep us from settling. Comfort and complacency produce a sense of control that is contradictory to allowing God’s Spirit to work in us and through us. God is determined to give us His Very Best. He doesn’t cut corners or compromise. We must press and push to stay in the Presence of God even in the midst of violent storms or shifting sands. In Luke 6:38, it talks about being “pressed down, shaken together and running over.” The giving of our life in full surrender to faith produces this kind of movement in our life. It is not a bad thing. It reveals the true wealth of our life. We have the opportunity to become refined and purified as gold.

Psalm 46:8-11 (NIV) Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Is the ground beneath you moving? Are the winds of change blowing like a hurricane through your life? Do you feel unstable? Could it be that your faith is producing some movement in the mountain of doubt you have been climbing? Faith moves mountains even in the smallest form. The changes and conditions that seem to be threatening you might be the very things moving you from complacency to confidence and producing the hope from the ashes of unmet expectation. You cannot expect to be transformed and not moved. It would be contradictory. Stagnancy is not a Kingdom condition as His Spirit flows through our life. Changing us and the outcomes of each trial. The Lord is moving us into a refuge of faith that produces confident hope that in the midst of shaking all around us – it produces a stillness just knowing that He is God. He is Good. His Love for us is unending and unconditional. He will stop at nothing to show you how much He desires you. If the mountain is moving today, do not let it move you. Keep the faith. Remain committed to confident hope. Hold on to Him with both hands. The Lord is for you. You will not fail!

Psalm 62:8 (NIV) Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Advertisements

Refuge on the Mountain

Refuge on the Mountain

Psalm 57:1-3 (NLT) Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection.
I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by. I cry out to God Most High,
to God who will fulfill his purpose for me. He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me. Interlude My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.

David was fleeing Saul’s wrath hiding in a cave carved in the side of a mountain. He wrote these words to the Lord as his soul sought solace from fear, worry, doubt, and anxiety. David asked for God’s Mercy. Compassion and forgiveness in his moment of deep distress. He longed for God’s Protection to be hidden beneath the shadow of the Lord’s wings until danger was gone. David was asking for peace in this moment as his heart ran away with his head. Confidence in the Lord goes as deep as our trust. When we no longer are confidence, it becomes more difficult to respond to Him rather than reacting to our circumstances. But then something happens, David changes his tune. He says, I cry out to God Most High. David is nudging God back on the throne of his wavering heart. He declares that the Lord will fulfill His Purpose for me. Trust in the Lord that no longer leans on understanding is evidence of faith.

I Samuel 22:1-2 (NIV) David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.

Psalm 57 was written during this time, David was hiding in a cave. I find it interesting that he was surrounded by many who “in distress, or in debt, or discontented.” Misery loves company. David was in “hiding” surrounded by four hundred men – how ironic. There are times in life, though not alone, one may be lost in the crowd. Proverbs 14:10 says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” Fear is powerful. Fear of God is a respect that generates confidence in His Power and Authority in our life. Trust is evidence of such respect. Our ability to put the substance of our life in His Hands knowing with all confidence that He is worthy of it. However, fear in the negative form is a dangerous weapon wielded by the enemy to take out our faith and confidence in the Lord.

Fear is defined by some as “false evidence appearing real”. It is the lie of the enemy made of twisted truth and empty taunts that the heart decides to hold on to. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Like any weapon, truth must be used properly to be effective. We must know God’s Word to fortify our heart. God has not given us the spirit of fear and we must be diligent in not taking hold of it. The enemy uses isolation to keep us caught up in his lies and empty threats.

I Samuel 22:5 (NLT) But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.

What was the turning point? The place in Psalm 55 when fear turns to trust…it was the obedience of David to leave the cave and go to Judah. Judah means “praise”. I wonder if sometimes we get so caught up in the lie of the enemy that our freedom found in truth becomes restricted. David was surrounded by men who were in distress, debt, and discouraged. God was moving David from their midst into a place of praise. Praise relays confidence in the Lord over our present and momentary troubles and trials in life. It is human nature to commiserate but it is willing obedience to let confidence in God’s Word change our conversation. Grumbling and complaining about the “mountain” before us does nothing to remove it. It only keeps it firmly in place. We are not cursing our situation but telling the world that God has somehow lost His Power, Authority and Sovereignty which is simply not true. Such words are allegiance to the Father of Lies rather than the Giver of Life.

I Kings 19:8-10 (NIV) “There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

Elijah found himself also hiding in a cave. Jezebel had threatened to kill him since he killed all her false prophets and made sport of her gods before all the people. Now the people were praising God, but the man of God was hiding. The Lord asks him frankly, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Now before you cast judgment on the poor prophet, how many times do we do the exact same thing? Recount the trauma of our trail, the details of our trial, the height and weight of the giant, and the impossibility of our situation. We do it all the time as if God is not with us and Christ does not live in us. As though, He did not create us with a plan and purpose or go before us or hedge us in from behind with unfailing love and goodness. It is important to note that sometimes our heart betrays us even in our prayer life. Do you spend time talking about the size, shape and density of the mountain or the vastness of our God? Trust in the Lord considers the Greatness and Almightiness of God over the stature of the enemy.

Psalm 142:5-7 (NIV) I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.

More words of David hiding in the cave in the side of the mountain, “I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Do not mistake the invisibility of God to be His Absence. The Lord is with you. His Goodness is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:14) Do not dismiss Him simply because there is a mountain before you. The mountain has a place of refuge called His Presence. It will take a lifetime to overcome our doubts, eliminate fear, overcome anxiety, silence stress and cease to worry confidently trusting the Lord. It is possible to those who seek the Lord to be their refuge and strength. God will set you free with His Truth. You must praise Him on the mountain so seeds of faith will begin to break the foundation of doubt and give way to willing obedience that offers the fruit of the Spirit to others rather than bitter roots.

One final word as I close today, choose companions on the journey over the mountain carefully. The righteous will gather about me because of Your Goodness to me. When David fled to the cave, who came first? Those who were defeated, distressed, indebted and discontent. What did the lone prophet tell him? Go to Judah. Find your praise. Praise changes the situation by softening our heart to receive the Truth. Praise is the salve that heals a broken heart. It reminds our soul to trust the One who loved us first and who loves us most. Surround yourself in such times with righteous friends not miserable commiserates. We need those friends of Proverbs 27:17 – “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 12:26 says that the righteous choose their friends carefully.

Be encouraged today. God is with you. He is for you. His Love never left you. He is only a whisper away. For those who trust Him, the mountain will be moved. To those who are committed to loving God and seeking His Presence – they will find refuge and strength in peace even when all hell is breaking loose around them. Be a friend of God first. Choose your close companions carefully. Live in Judah it is the place called praise.

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.

 

Tight Spot

Tight spot

Psalm 18:1-2 (NIV) I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Ever find yourself in a tight spot, me too. It seems like sometimes our freedom in Christ is compromised – hedged in by conditions, limited by situations, and overwhelmed by problems – where are the wide open spaces that God promised His People in Psalm 18:19 or the spacious place. In Psalm 16:6 – it is called the pleasant place. Life is not always pleasant even after accepting Jesus Christ. He promises us victory in the outcome but not necessarily triumph in every moment. Life can be hard. It can bring the unexpected. Life is not fair. It can be brutal as a believer to live for Christ every day, to be the light, and remain salty nevertheless that is our call.

Who the Son sets free is free indeed? But with that comes the wisdom that though are things are now permissible – not all things are beneficial. We have a new set of standards for our choices in life. How will I respond to problems? What is my reaction to pressure? The Lord is my strength. He will help me. Right? Well, why do I feel weak and powerless? I am hemmed in and it seems as though the evidence of my life is contradictory to strength and power. These two qualities have changed since receiving Christ, now my strength must fail in order for His Power called Grace to prevail in my life. I am no longer confident in me, my abilities, my surroundings or even the people around me. The Lord is calling me to the rock so He can be my Rock. He is calling me into his fortress so He can become my Fortress. He is allowing me to wander into dangerous territory so that He can be my Deliverer. Otherwise, I would continue to settle for less and do things in my own power. Where is the glory in that?

Exodus 33:21-23 (NIV) Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

Moses was uncertain of God’s Command to “lead these people” as I am sure many men and women in ministry struggle with from time to time. Leading people is tough. People are problematic, prideful and stubborn. Just managing my own brood is challenging enough, I cannot imagine trying to lead an entire congregation in the same vision and mission. Ugh! He goes before the Lord to discuss the matter. I wonder what would happen if we became conversational with God. If we entered His Presence to hash things out and discuss the issues that bring us concern. What if we just decided to have an intimate conversation with Him even on the good days when trouble is not pounding on our door and chaos calm for the moment? The Lord tells Moses – paraphrased – “No worries. I will go with you! I will do what you are asking. I am pleased with you and know you by name.” So Moses presses further – “Now show me your glory.” There is something about God’s Glory – His Manifest Presence that may not change our environment but changes our heart washing away doubt and fear and filling us with confident hope. Are you confident in the Lord today? Or do you feel restricted, limited or hindered by the circumstances surrounding your life? I wonder today if the Lord is pressing you into the “cleft of the rock and covering you with His Hand”? Could it be that He is about to show you His Glory?

I Kings 19:11-13 (NIV) The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah had just killed all the prophets of Baal arousing the anger of Jezebel. Now one would assume that the prophet would be basking in victory but instead he is hiding in a cave. Her threat had penetrated his human heart and now he was in a cave second guessing his destiny. He told the Lord, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty” in this statement we find that the man of God feels far from God as He addresses the Lord formally. He recounts his good works and then the pity party begins…”I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me.”

Fear and doubt are powerful motivators and sneaky attackers. They come in when we are tired, drained or running low in faith. They pounce on us like helpless prey and devour the little bit of confidence remaining after tests and trials have taken their toll. I never really understood this until our son went into remission. For almost a year, I was broken, empty and on the verge of depression. The victory was great. God is good. His Word did not fail us. Our son is alive and well. However, I am still human and given over to emotionalism from time to time. I couldn’t see the Light of His Glory in that moment as my humanness overtook me. I had exhausted my faith and needed renewal. God passed by me in His Goodness and swept His Glory over me. I was instantly refreshed and renewed. It is not uncommon for us to give in to human weakness. In fact, it is absolutely necessary for His Grace to empower our life.

Song of Solomon 2:14-16 (NIV) My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. My beloved is mine and I am his…

The tight spots, limitations, hindrances and times of being stuck between a rock and hard place have meaning and purpose. They are an invitation. An opportunity to press into the Presence of God and spend time with Him. He is the One who tells us who we really are, what we are called to do, and how to do it yet we get caught up in busyness, the opinions of others and the rat race chasing some elusive American Dream forgetting that He is the God is Good in the land of the living. We see God futuristically and seek Him so when He desires intimacy and communion with us now – today. He pursues us with unfailing love and goodness. Will we stop long enough to experience His Love today and encounter His Glory?

From the very beginning, it has been God’s Greatest Desire to walk with us, talk with us, and live life with us. He desires us. He loves us. The Lord chases after us with His Love, Mercy, Grace and Goodness every day, all day from beginning to end. Could it be that the challenges you are facing is merely the Lord carefully constructing a cleft to catch you in? A place where He can lavish His Love on you, make a way for you, shower His Goodness on you or even just let you know that He is right there with you. See the Power of God does not limit our life but removes every limitation. We are free indeed.

Psalm 36:5-9 (NIV) Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Are you in a tight spot today? Do you feel limited? Is your confidence waning and faith running low? I wonder your limitation is really an invitation? Could it be that your Beloved is wooing you to come closer and move deeper in His Presence? He makes all things new. He makes way where there is no way. He gives life and love to those who dare to trust Him. The Lord is good. He is always good. He will never let you down but until you trust Him that will remain an opinion of others rather than your personal experience. God allows us to run into dead ends in order to show us a better way. He waits for us to run out of energy and excuses to illuminate the Plan and Purpose found only in His Presence. When His Glory passes by, you will take notice and be changed. He loves you. He is faithful. He is your righteousness and justice all wrapped in one. His love for you is without condition but you must be convinced enough to receive it today. Those who take refuge in the cleft of His Love will live in the shadow of his wings – safe and secure in all situations. They live in abundance beginning with confident hope. They drink from a river so deep that drought cannot reach it. It is a river of delights including joy and peace even in the tough times and tight spots. He is a fountain of life and light in the dark. He is Jesus. He is all you ever need.

Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV) Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Hidden Snare

Hidden Snare

Proverbs 29:25 (NIV) Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Fear is a snare. It is a trap that keeps us from the safety and security of peace. It swallows up copious amounts of time with stress, worry and anxiety rather than love, peace and joy. Fear of anything other than the Lord does not produce a single thing of worth in our life but robs us of precious minutes. “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:27) I wonder if the psalmist in Psalm 25 was talking about fear when he wrote, “The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” (Psalm 25:14-15)

The enemy wants to convince you today that God doesn’t love his people unconditionally. He tries to convict us with lies and half-truths using the Word of God in a twisted and tainted fashion. Religion concocts remedies to keep pride alive and the façade of control while people are ravaged by such antidotes. Fear of man…or anything else for that matter will prove to be a snare for God’s People. Faith is the only thing that can overcome fear. It comes at the price of seeing to believe. It is a radical form of trust in a Living God who is not perceived by our senses but known by our heart.

Job 1:6-11 (NIV) One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Job 2:3-4 (NIV) Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 

The “even-ifs” of life are those moments when despite trial, trouble or tragedy, hope remains steadfastly anchored in God alone. Job experienced times like this. He lost everything of value and worth including his children in a single day. The next day, after proving his love and devotion to the Lord – his body afflicted. The Lord allowed it. We know in the end God restored Job and gave him a double portion blessing but oh what a price he paid in the fire of refinement. Maybe you remember three Hebrew men – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Daniel 3:16-18 (NIV) Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

“But even if he does not, we want you to know…we will not serve other gods.” Our confidence in God must grow to larger than our fear of other things. Even if He (the Lord) does not, we will not serve another. Such confident trust that even in death, our complete and absolute trust is in the Lord. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we must make it through today.

Some points of interest in Job’s Account is that Satan went before the Lord in the heavenlies. God is fully aware of the enemy and his earthly activities. Secondly, the enemy asked for permission to tempt the man of God. Why in the world would the Lord allow such a thing? My faith in the Lord must be genuine. When the hedge of protection is secure and everything is going good, it isn’t that hard to be faithful to the Lord. However, when all hell breaks loose in our life, what happens next is true revelation. Even if, God doesn’t deliver me what will I do about it?

Romans 8:14-16 (NIV) For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 

You are a child of the Living God. You have every reason to live a fearless life. However, total faith in the absence of fear does not exempt you from fiery trials. In fact, it turns up the furnace seven times hotter. True repentance should produce real faith. Faith that withstands trial, trouble or even tragedy is real and genuine. It is said to be more valuable than gold. The Spirit of God gives us liberty from fear, worry, stress and anxiety but it is up to the individual the role taken in life. The sons and daughters of God are not in bondage. There is no enslavement for Christ but rather servanthood as His Beloved. Who the Son sets free is free indeed – first and foremost from fear that hinders our faith. But can we say, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

Romans 8 goes on to say…

Romans 8:28 (NIV)  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

Are you wondering today – how can any good come from this? Why would God allow such a thing to happen to me? Where is He when I need Him most? Fear whispers such terrible lies but the Truth God is with us. His Word will not return to Him void which includes this one. He will never let the righteous fall. I could go on and on with the Truth that refutes the lie of the enemy challenging the Sovereignty and Constancy of God.

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Perfect love drives out fear. (I John 4:18) The more we seek to know the Lord and His Word, the less likely it is that we will fall for the lies, traps and snares of the enemy. The Light of His Love illuminates our way so that we can overstep and bypass them. The Promise is that we are more than conquerors so even if we must fight the good fight of faith there is nothing to fear. We win. We will be victorious simply because Christ overcame the world. He is our Beloved who gives us victory after victory. There is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God. What can make us depart from it today? Usually fear is focused in that area, the thing that we just cannot seem to trust God with. Is it your family? Your finances? Your future? Whatever it is should be evident to you. It is the place where fear constantly challenges your faith. Where you feel the least hope and struggle with confidence in God. It is the place where the enemy lays his most intricate traps and seeks the Lord’s permission to challenge you on a regular basis.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

His Grace is enough! It is always sufficient. Grace gives us access to God’s Power. You have the power to overcome the enemy including every lie he tries to feed you today. Do not feed your fears. Let God’s Word feed your faith today. His Love is unconditional. You can never blow it with God in a way that cannot be overcome by His Grace. His Power is always available to us. His Love for us complete without our contribution. Finally, self-discipline is the key to overcoming fear each day. We have God’s Spirit alive and well on the inside of us. It is up to us if He will be in control of our mind, will and emotions today. Will I allow God’s Spirit to stir my faith and build strong confidence in Christ or will I let fear take over? I choose faith today. How about you? Lord, reveal all my fears to me today so that I may strive to apply faith to them. Every snare, trap and lie the enemy has laid before me so by faith I can leap over them into Your Waiting Arms. Let me live fearlessly in love with You!

You unravel me with a melody…You surround me with a song… Of deliverance from my enemies…’Til all my fears are gone. I’m no longer a slave to fear…I am a Child of God!

Soul Wellness

Soul Wellness

Psalm 131 (NKJV) Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

Psalm 131 describes the heart of one who fully and completely trusts the Lord. The words are not eloquent painting a picture of divine intervention and a perfect life. It is more a surrender and submission of the psalmist’s heart, mind and soul to the Sovereignty of God. It is simple truth about simple trust. My heart is not haughty or my eyes lofty. Pride crucified. Completely convicted of its own inadequacy and inability to be effective on its own. The first step to trusting the Lord is humility. Grace is accepted in our absolute weakness. It is the moment the Power of the Living God is manifested in us…not necessarily around us. The expectation that Jesus came to change our situation and save the earth is false. He came for one thing. He died for a single cause. It was for me. It was for you. His Desire for us so great that He set aside His Throne to come and live a humble life as our example and to be crucified as a sacrifice for us. My heart is humbled at such a thought. The idea that a perfect and sinless man would lay down his life for me is overwhelming in the first place, but to add that it is the deity of God who took my place is incomprehensible even to those who believe.

As I write these words today, there is a hurricane headed in our direction. The sky is growing darker and the wind beginning to pick up. It is midmorning and the neighborhood is eerily quiet as the community waits, watches and wonders what will happen next. Fully prepared with food and supplies, the unpredictability of nature and the weather is still unnerving. Standing outside it is clear even the birds, squirrels and animals that live in the trees around our house have gone into hiding. Vivid images being broadcast from the center of the hurricane make it clear things are destined to change. In the stillness, I am reminded – the will of God is stillness for our soul no matter what the situation. I do not understand the nature and condition of the world in which I live. I am not entirely sure why bad things happen to good people or why the innocent die young. The more I think I know the less I seem to understand many things. However, I have come to know a few simple things – God is good. He loves me. He is for me. Christ lives in me. His Spirit helps me. In the Lord, I will trust.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

Yesterday, the wind began to pick up just a little bit. A tree fell in our yard. There was only a gentle breeze. How could it cause such damage? On closer inspection, I found that the tree was completely rooted on the inside. Though it looked fine from the exterior, the interior was fragmented and crumbling easily picked apart with my bare hands. It wasn’t the wind that knocked over the tree and caused it to fall but rather the tree was dying on the inside already. When the breeze came along it could not stand anymore. An object lesson for me, I believe. Maybe it Is not the problems in life that cause us to stumble or fall crying out to the Lord, but rather out inward condition of distrust and disbelief that push us over when things start moving and shaking around us. Rather than trusting our Good Father, Loving God, Savior, Redeemer, Protector and Friend, our inward condition causing outward consequences. I want to trust the Lord. I want to be welcomed into the Kingdom of God. I must be unshakable and immovable in my faith which is evidenced by trust.

What if the situations and circumstances that come with life are not the cause of our fall, fail or future? What if it is just the conduit that causes us to see our current condition? The tree was on the verge of falling already. It was deteriorating rapidly on the inside. The first brisk breeze that came along knocked it over. Could it be that it is not the things that happen to us that are the problem but rather reveal the contents of our heart? Psalm 131 says, “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul…” The security of our heart, mind and soul are manifested by trust. To trust the Lord making Him our refuge and strength. This means letting go of the three “C’s” (comfort, control and convenience) to fully embrace Christ in all things.

Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) Be still, and know that I am God…

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God is our refuge. He is our strength. He is a very present help in trouble. The humble heart knows this and puts trust in the character and divine nature of our loving, faithful Father and Friend. We must trust the Lord. Trust is reliance on the integrity, strength, ability and surety of the Lord with full confidence. It is the confident expectation or hope given to us as an indication of faith in our life. Hope is futuristic. It is intact whether our natural circumstances or condition indicate its relevancy. God is God with or without our belief. Our belief does not fuel His Power but aligns us within it. Miracles are made up of impossibilities. It is such times that God becomes our hope and security. Without impossible situations there would be no signs, wonders or miracles. It is the shaking of our heart, mind and soul that reveal the contents of our heart and soundness of our trust. It is when we can be still in just knowing that He is God when simple trust becomes evident.

Psalm 62:1-2 (NKJV) Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

There is a great deal of uncertainty in the city and surrounding area. Our lives may change dramatically in the next 24 hours depending on the intensity of the hurricane when it reaches our area. More than 20 people have died in its wake. We have prepared to the best of our ability for the storm. Our home is well-constructed and completely insured. There is a generator with a fresh supply of gasoline and plenty of food and water if needed. Now we wait… If tomorrow tragedy strikes what will be my response? Will I be able to say, “It is well with my soul”? Where we wait is the tell-tale sign of the outcome in moments such as these.

Triumph over tragedy is found in the Lord and in God alone. It is the peace that passes understanding that allows us to draw our next breath when it is all we have left. His Love is the place where shattered pieces of broken hearts find healing. The Refuge called Presence is the hiding place for God’s People. His Grace is our strength yet only evident in our complete and utter weakness that causes us to humble our heart before Him.

Today as I wait for the storm to pass, I am challenged to examine my heart and listen for the inner voice of my soul. Will I wait silently before the Lord knowing that He alone is my salvation? Will I be moved? Will I stay put in my faith and simple trust believing that no matter what tomorrow holds that He holds me firmly in place? We put so much emphasis on what we can see, feel, hold and touch in this life that sometimes it is the moving and shaking of those things that cause us to inspect the contents of our heart and soul. My deep desire is that when morning comes – the voice that I hear will say, “It is well with my soul!”

When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul”.

Romans 15:13 (NKJV) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

When Mountains Move

When Mountains Move

Matthew 21:21-22 (NKJV) So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

When our youngest child was a toddler, she developed rapid onset asthma. It came on out of nowhere. She had not experienced any symptoms before the day of her first attack. Over the next several weeks, it grew worse and worse. We were at the doctor’s office every day to adjust medications and check for complications. She could not far from a nebulizer. Taking her anywhere was strongly discouraged as a secondary illness could compromise her life. Meanwhile, my husband and I were learning about faith. Tangible faith that changed things. Coincidental? I don’t believe in coincidences since meeting Jesus Christ and getting to know His Ways. I was perplexed that while serving God and seeking Him wholeheartedly, how could this be happening to us? Our mentors began to sow seeds of faith in us and teaching us how to pray believing that God would answer our prayers. We prayed often but now it was time to put our money where our mouth is. For weeks following medical advice and praying for our child, begin to build confidence. Unaware of its productivity, I sat in a doctor’s office awaiting yet another list of protocols. Of course, he delivered. And then he did something that changed everything, her doctor wrote “forever” on the prescription pad. The word was underlined. The medications had finally yielded a slightly positive result. Heaven and hell clashed all around us. I was infuriated that an unknown curse was leveled against my child. Walking to the car with her in one hand and the wretched piece of paper in the other, I began praying with angry words reciting laced with complete indignation. An absolute intrusion into God’s Territory opened an unseen doorway to the realm of hope called impossible. When I was done and out of breath from praying in known and unknown languages, a still small voice declared it finished and I was instructed to stop all medications by the Great Physician.

This is our testimony of the healing of our daughter. I do not in any way justify going against medical orders unless you hear the Voice of God spoken directly to you in an audible voice. God still talks to people – directly! I did not share this true story to incite you to spontaneous faith that jumps off mountains heedlessly. The real test came after I heard God tell me what to do. I did it. After months of life threatening situations, I had to decide whether or not to believe the Word of the Lord which meant stopping the medication she had survived on. I did it. Terrified and trembling, not sleeping for days, I did it. Our daughter has never had another asthma attack or any similar symptoms. In fact, she hardly ever even gets a cold. I am sharing this to say that faith is not easy. It is probably the hardest thing that we will ever do. To defy the logic innate and engrained in us to see the Glory of God. Jesus told his disciples that “whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” We must have faith that does not doubt when it comes to a place of action. Heavenly manifestations can be very vulnerable and scary transitions. When Heaven comes to earth, mountains begin to move, and pathways are made straight produces a physical reaction in the atmosphere that removes us from convenience, comfort and control to produce godly change. We want it. Now we must walk it.

Matthew 17:20 (NKJV) So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Faith is a seed that grows in our heart. It doesn’t stop in our heart but by believing pushes through conditions and circumstances to change an ordinary life to extraordinary. It defies the natural to produce supernatural results. The exhilarating rush of putting our faith and trust in the Lord is followed by moments of hesitation when change does not occur rapidly or the conditions only worsen. God works through the impossibilities of life to produce His Glory. If man can do it, there is no reason for hope. Confident trust in the Lord takes us to the edge of self and complete undoing of our mind, will and emotions to take one more step into the unknown place. It causes us to challenge everything known about God and decide if it is credible enough to take a chance.

Isaiah 54:10 (NIV) Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

When seeds of faith grow into fulfillment it produces movement and change in our life. It is not always a peaceful transition and never a comfortable change. Moving mountains shake the foundation of our life. Hills being removed present unforeseen challenges moving us from good to glory! The steadfast security in all transition and change is the unfailing love of God for us and His Covenant of Peace that keeps us. We must learn to trust God completely so that when nothing in life adds up to what He has shown us in His Word or spoken to our heart that we do not abandon our post of waiting and watching for His Arrival.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

His Thoughts are higher. His Ways are too. (Isaiah 55) We must learn to look at our life from a heavenly perspective found only in the Presence of God. His Spirit will tell us the secret things of God when we invest our life in living from God’s Account of how our life could be rather than the conditions around us. The transition is inviting but getting from here to there will take many steps that are not logical and demand us to make a choice between believing and doubting. Doubt immobilizes our faith but when we believe it mobilizes the impossible making all things possible. The movement of such shifting and changing produces unsettling shaking of our life that can cause us to become fearful. God has not given us the spirit of fear but confidence born of trusting and believing God at His Word.

God is our refuge. He is our strength. Hope is the anchor of our soul when the boat starts rocking and we are called to step out of it. (Hebrews 6:19) If your life is shaking right about now, the earth seems to be moving beneath your feet, and things are not going as expected – don’t stop believing! Just step into His Presence and let God be your peace! He will keep you safe in the storm. He is working His Plan to His Perfection not your preference. Discomfort, inconvenience and when things are beyond our control are all signs of something far greater working in us and through us – Christ Jesus! Moving mountains make a sound and cause a reverberation. It is our faith in God and belief in His Authority and Power over our life that keeps us steady in the process!

Hebrews 12:26-28 (NIV) At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,

 

 

Finding Refuge

Finding Refuge

Proverbs 14:26 (NKJV) In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.

The waiting room of God has a sign hanging over the door marked “Refuge.” It is a place of peace and calm even when storms rage all around us. Like watching a torrential downpour from the comfort of our home, tucked under a soft blanket in our comfy clothes, listening to the rain hit the house, and watching the wind whipping through the trees yet somehow comforted and untouched by the sound structure of our house. When I was a child, our family lived in a mobile home. Not like the manufactured homes produced today but more like a tin can with wheels. When a mighty storm with wind and rain rocked the trailer back and forth, I would sleep peacefully knowing my parents where in the other room seemingly unaffected by the bad weather outside. Refuge can be found in our natural circumstances and sometimes in situations and certain people can offer the aid, comfort or escape needed. But what about all the other times when conditions around us threaten the peace within us? Those times when nothing in the natural can give us rest or relief from the storms of life? We have a refuge. We must learn to find Him.

Life is full of changes and uncertainty. Just when everything seems to be coming together, it can suddenly fall apart. The unexpected looms around every corner. Comfort is compromised on a regular basis. Convenience is our goal most often unattained. Could this be God’s subtle way of ushering us from movable circumstances to immovable confidence? Maybe in the storms of life it in our panic it is possible to persuade us to enter His Refuge called Peace? Refuge (machseh) is translated in the Bible as trust. Trusting the Lord is our shelter, refuge, protection, fortress, hope, shelter from the storm. We find the word “refuge” used many times in Psalms. It describes the place of peace and calm in the midst of violent storms and enemy attacks. It is for God’s Children. He offers us refuge. It is up to us to enter in.

Psalm 62:5-8 (NKJV) My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

My soul, wait silently on God alone, for my expectation is from Him.

To wait on the Lord is the most trust-filled position yet completely contrary to human nature. To stop trying to find a way out, over or through a situation or problem and rest in peaceful hope with the fullness of expectation that God is good, able and willing work it out for us. God’s silence is not His Absence. It is an opportunity to step deeper into the refuge called hope. To experience the comfort called peace. To the God of the Impossible and live in His Presence. Yet, silence makes us uncomfortable. It makes us fidget and squirm. The lack of communication fosters fear in those who do not have fearless confidence in the Lord, His Way and His Word. We must buffet our heart and mind with the essentials of faith so that hope becomes our refuge even in God’s Silence. While the enemy dares us to move, our heart remains steadfast in His Shelter.

I shall not be moved…

The Lord is my salvation. He is my glory. He is my strength. He is my refuge. All these qualities of God are to be made manifest in our life. Salvation being the core value of faith that gives us a place to put all our expectation. He is our Glory because through Christ we are victorious in our Champion who overcame the world. He is the rock so much higher than I but climbing is striving drawing me from my comfort zone into His Presence. To look down from such a place in the natural is riveting but to remain steadfast in such a place is powerful.

Trust in Him at all times…

Easier said than done most of the time, trust is the access point marked “refuge”. We must trust the Lord to find the peace of God even when He is silently working every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Fear and doubt produce anxiety that keeps us from staying in the refuge of God’s Presence. Faith cannot remain where fear is given a place in our life. The two cannot coexist but are mutually exclusive opposing forces. If we could only learn to trust the Lord with every detail of our life – we would live in the refuge of His Presence where peace passes all understanding. Faith would give way to confident hope rooting and grounding us in His Love. (Ephesians 3:17)

A preacher once gave the illustration of trust being the difference between a potted plant or planted tree. A potted plant is in grave danger when the storm comes. A tree planted with deep roots will fair far better. The potted plant is tossed about in the driving wind and raging storm where the one that is planted will be swayed back and forth but remain steadfast. There are many believers who are like potted plants when it comes to the Lord and His Presence. Running to and fro when the storm comes their position in Christ is compromised by a lack of commitment. However, those who decide to be like a tree planted by the riverbank will prosper in every season because they are planted in the Presence of God. The roots that keep us planted in the Presence God called refuge are called trust. When we trust the Lord, it will create a bond that keeps us latched on to Him tightly making us immovable and unshakeable in the most violent of conditions.

Psalm 46:1 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

God is a very present help in trouble. What about when I can’t hear Him? Feel Him? See Him? Understand Him? Our inability to perceive the workings of the Lord doesn’t mean that He is absent. We are called to walk by faith not by sight or any other of our natural senses. When given the opportunity to trust the Lord, we choose our position. Will I remain faithful? Will I continue to worship the Lord for Who He is? Will my words be filled with confident praise or constant complaining? Will I believe for one more day? Will I wait for Him to come like He said that He would? Will I give God the time and space to allow His Will to come to pass even if it means forsaking my comfort, convenience and control? God makes all things beautiful in His Timing. We are His Masterpiece yet to be completed.

Trusting God is the only way that fulfillment will come and our expectation be fully met. He is our strong tower that keeps the enemy at bay. (Psalm 61:3) God does not force us to enter refuge but we must make the decision. “I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my refuge…’” (Psalm 91:2) God’s Presence, His Place called Refuge, is “my portion in the land of the living.” (Psalm 142:5) So many times, we try to weather the storms of life because we cannot accept that by grace we are saved through faith” and there is nothing that can be done to earn it, deserve it or preserve it. I must have faith in the Living God. He lives in me…now. He wants to give me refuge now. He wants to be my peace and portion…now. Trust creates the kind of reliance on God that meets our expectation despite our current condition. “But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.” (Psalm73:28)

Hebrews 6:17-20 (NKJV) Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

The only place in the New King James Version of the New Testament that refuge is mentioned is in the Book of Hebrews. The faith book of the Bible tells us that so “we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” Are you holding on to hope today? Even if it is only by a thread you can use it to pull yourself into the Presence of God. He is our hope. He has made an oath to us. He has given us a plan containing a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) God created us with a measure of faith to seed our life (Romans 12:3) so that confident hope will be produced. We sow God’s Word in our heart and it is cultivated by His Spirit inside of us when we trust Him to do so. (Galatians 5:22-23) God does not lie. He does not change His Mind. (Hebrews 6:18) He does not withdraw His Calling from us. He is always for us working every detail of our life for good. (Romans 8:28) He promises to perfect all that concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) But none of these things will ever come to pass, if we do not learn to trust Him. We must yoke our life to Jesus Christ in order to find the refuge needed to wait out the storm or find protection from the enemy. It is in that place of silence and security that peace passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and there is joy in our salvation (Psalm 51:12). He wraps us in a robe of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:10) Shields us beneath the wings of angels (Psalm 91:4). He will fight for us when our faith allows us to stand down yet steadfast in His Love. Confidently waiting for our portion to refill us, restore us and renew us day by day.

There is no greater refuge than the peace found in the Presence of God. He offers to be our refuge always not just when tough times come or bad things happen. We can live in the Presence of God every day. He will be our refuge. He wants to be our strength. Finding refuge means to simply trust Him with your life. All of it. Withholding nothing and His Presence will fill every nook and cranny. You will prosper as your soul prospers according to His Word. Once you find it, you will never want to leave Him again.

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV) The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Stay Present

stay-present

Psalm 68:3-4 (NLT) But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy. Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the Lord—rejoice in his presence!

Not too long ago, I purchased an oversized lounging hoodie with the words “Stay Present” on the front. I bought it because it was soft and flowy ready to put on with some yoga pants and do nothing kind of shirt. The words on the front “Stay Present” caught my attention and moved in my spirit a little so with the deeply discounted sales tag, I threw it in the buggy and kept shopping. As I rummage through the closet looking for something to wear on occasion I stop and read the shirt time and time again. It’s as if there is a message for me there that I am not grasping yet I know it means something. Am I not present for my people including my family and friends? Lord, have I lost touch with reality. Have I missed something along the way? Or does it speak of a time to come when a new season of life will begin and I will be busy again…too busy and need to be reminded to stop, look and listen? Maybe I am reading too much into a clearance rack message that means nothing at all…I don’t think so.

I have a tendency to take on too much, make numerous commitments, overestimate the time allotted and not to say, “No.” I am learning that not doing is just as important as doing sometimes. In a season of being rushed, overwhelmed and definitely overcommitted, I wonder if the garnet shirt yelling at me to “Stay Present” is a reminder of some sort. A mantra to be adopted. How do I stay present when life is busy? When it is hard? When the unexpected hits? When I am overwhelmed? How do not become moved by my conditions, circumstances or problems? The Lord has provided a place for us in His Presence. It allows us to stay present in this life yet maintain our faith, confident hope, inexpressible joy and be constantly renewed by His Grace that gives sufficient power and strength to overcome and live victoriously. It is not about an actual place that we can go to, but one that may exist inside the human soul. It is internal yet infinite.

Rejoice in His Presence. To live in the presence of God is to know who I am in Jesus Christ. It is acquired by knowledge that is turned to wisdom through experience as a believer when an encounter with God every day is a top priority in our life. He is not at church or in a building. God lives and breathes in us. It is to become present with the Presence of God in us that changes everything. No longer do the things of this life and problems that come with it matter to us, because suddenly greater is He that is in us than he who is in this world. We must stay present in His Presence – no matter what comes our way.

Exodus 33:16-19 (NLT) How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.” The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.” The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.

I have heard many accounts of people who were raised in denominations and churches that did not understand or teach about the Presence of God who after one church service IN the Presence of God could not explain what or how they felt other than to say, “It was God!” Tears flowing something happens inside of them that their consciousness cannot comprehend yet their heart knows it is the Lord. The Presence of God changes everything when our perception of God meets the Person of God.

Moses had been given a tall and impossible order. In his conversation with God, he is looking for something credible to offer those who might contradict him along the way. He asked the Lord for His Presence. Why? “For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.” His personal revelation was prophetic in nature. When Jesus died, He said, “It is finished.” He then released His Spirit to inhabit the heart of every man and woman who accepts Him as Savior and calls Him their Lord. His Presence lives inside of us. It IS the very thing that sets us apart from everyone else. It will be the deciding factor on Judgment Day. Will the Lord know me? Yes, if I stay present today.

What is it about God’s Presence that is so desirable? Well, first it is the very thing that makes us His Children. If that is not enough, it is characterized by His Goodness. It is His Mercy and Compassionate Love for us surrounding us, changing us from the inside out and completing us. It makes something out of nothing. It makes all the impossibilities possible. It releases growth power to our personal potential hidden in us since creation. It is our confident hope that is the light that guides through darkness and leads us through the valleys of life. His Presence truly is the only thing we have that is tangible enough to feel, hear, touch, see, breathe and live within. His Presence is possible because of His Grace and as I submit my life to His Wonder Working Power it overtakes me day by day until it is where I choose to exist.

Psalm 15:1-2 (NLT) Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.

The Presence of God does not fill a building or sanctuary. The Presence of God does not exist outside of human context. If the Spirit of God moves in a building, it is because the Presence of God came with some of the people. When Jesus released His Spirit, people became the Temple of God rather than buildings. Christ lives in you. He lives in me. If God is not sweeping through our congregation, it is time for soul searching on the part of each member. We all have a part in the next Great Move of God that I believe is coming. We must welcome the Presence of God in our heart and mind allowing God to prosper our soul. We stay present in His Presence if revival is to come.

Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking truth from sincere hearts. Well that is certainly not me on any given day, how about you? I do not and cannot and will not live a sinless life no matter how desperately I may desire to. How can I live in the Presence of God in such a deplorable state? True repentance. Every single day I must live to turn my life over to the Lord and give Him all the real estate of my heart. Just as I am. His Grace is enough for me. It must be my desire to love the Lord and to live in His Presence. With an intentional heart, that is intent on knowing God despite my sinful and terrible condition.

Psalm 16:11 (NLT) You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

When I am not experiencing the benefit or blessing of a promise that I find in God’s Word, I retrace the scripture before the promise to see what the steps of acquisition may be. To acquire the Presence of God in my life, there are some simple steps. First, I must accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. (Psalm 16:1) He becomes my refuge the moment I repent and call on His Name. Now, like many other people, I could stop there and invest my whole life in only knowing the Power of His Grace and its sufficiency in my weakness. But God provided more for me than just salvation, Jesus offers to be my Lord. Some people do not ever get beyond Savior to call Him Lord.

“I said to the Lord, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” (Psalm 16:2) When a person moves from acceptance of salvation to acknowledging Jesus as Lord there is a shift in the dynamics of our life. It is the process of redemption that leads to completion in Christ. Full satisfaction is found in the holy inhabitation of the Holy Spirit as Jesus takes over our life and carries our burdens, heals our body, and leads us from everlasting to everlasting. It is in His Presence that everything changes. To repent yet not redeem the potential of God for our life is like holding the winning lottery ticket worth millions or more but never going to the lottery office to claim our prize. It may be worth a fortune but the paper it is on is only representative of its potential. Wasted potential is unfortunate when God has promised the Kingdom to you today.

And so begins the adventure through acceptance and acknowledgment, our lives are lived in pursuit of His Presence. If God is there, I am going. If He is here, I am staying. If He turns, I am turning. To live in step with Jesus every step of the way, I will go where He goes. Life with the Lord is an adventure. There is never a dull moment. We will still be hard pressed. There will be days like that. Bad things will happen to good people. Life is still not fair. We do not need fair because now we are favored. To transition our life from what we see, feel and touch in this life, to experience what we know and Who we know makes all the difference in the world. We must pursue the Presence of God and stay present at all costs.

Ephesians 3:11-12 (NLT) This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

I have been given the profound privilege of entering the Presence of Almighty God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Not cowering but with boldness and confidence, I can enter the Presence of God each day. What better way to honor the sacrifice of His Only Son, then to accept His Invitation to come closer. To move deeper. To live in His Presence day by day.

Colossians 1:21-23 (NLT) This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.

I know what you are thinking, I feel the same way too sometimes. I know me. I know every fault and failure. I remember my shortcomings. The times I was disobedient. The thoughts that sometimes overtake me. Let me assure you as the Holy Spirit must insure me. It is not about me. It is all about Christ crucified and honoring His Gift with my life. No matter how messed up I am or how many times I mess up, God desires my presence in His Presence. He loves me because compassion is His Character. His Grace is enough for me to be washed white and admitted entrance to the refuge of His Love. My selfish consideration that there is anything I have done to keep from accessing His Presence is my own lack of faith because His Grace is enough for me and every sin that I have committed or am yet to commit.

You must believe that God’s Presence is for you today. Come to the Lord and lay every burden and sin at His Feet. Step into His Presence with the boldness and confidence that comes from faith that chooses to trust the Lord rather than anyone else’s report. The Presence of God in you is absolutely essential to the next Great Move of God in the church. Will you stay present in His Presence today? The world needs you to be there. You cannot lead where you have not been. You cannot share something you do not have. You cannot share a Gospel that is not in you.

Hebrews 10:21-23 (NLT)  And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house,  let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

The Lion’s Roar

the-lions-roar

Psalm 91:9-13 (NLT) If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

Ever wonder why lions are referred to as king of the jungle? For centuries, lions have been called the king of beasts (not of the jungle). Due to their majestic appearance and position as a top predator, they are the assumed “king” of the beasts due to their raw power. They are the only wild cats who form a community called a “pride” where they live and hunt together. Male lions are the protector of the pride. They defend their territory and protect their cubs from invading males. Human kings were once perceived to play the very same role and do the same things. Where are all the kings now?  Kings are for fairy tales and folklore or are they?

As I read about the King of Kings today, the Lord has promised me a place of refuge. He gives me shelter from evil so I may not be conquered by it but live in His Grace. Nothing can come close to the home I have found in the Lion of Judah – the King of all kings. He promises His Angels will protect me as I go – holding me up with their hands so I will not stumble or fall. I will trample upon lions and cobras. I will crush fierce lions and serpents under my feet. All of this is promised for those who “those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”  (Psalm 91:1-2)

Shortly after graduating high school, I felt a tug on my heart to pursue full-time ministry. The College and Career pastor and I were talking about the many aspects of ministry. He offered an opportunity to travel to Africa and spend the summer with missionaries. Lying in bed in Nairobi, Africa in a villa just outside of the city, in the still of the night lions would roar in the distance. I was completely in awe that I could hear lions in the wild roaring. I was not afraid safely tucked in bed. The home was secure. Men of the Masai tribe in Kenya were employed to patrol the perimeter of the property for protection as well. I was safe in my refuge yet I could still hear the roar of the lion.

God promises us power over the enemy but there will be many times that he roars at us. The lies hissed by the serpent are shouted by the lion painted in false power and fake authority. The enemy has no power over us when our faith and trust is safe and secure in the refuge of God in His Presence. Do you trust the shelter of faith built around your life today by the Most High? Do you run when the lion roars? Have you fallen for the whispered lie of the serpent? Today is the day to get back on your feet. The roar of the lion is inevitable but the Power of God manifested in you through Jesus Christ is the greatest authority of all. Greater is He who lives in you than he that is in the world. Do you believe that today? The roar of the lion is silenced by the Power of God for those who choose to love and trust Him.

I Peter 5:6-11 (NLT) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” As a true believer in Jesus Christ, it is imperative to live battle ready. The enemy is ready to engage from the moment your feet hit the floor. He will keep your mind awake through the night with fear, anxiety, worries and care that are nothing more than lies taking up real estate in the human mind. Faith and trust cannot exist in occupied space. Faith can only come when fear is given up. Trust is the act of expecting God first enough to make room for Him to be our expectation. If you do not trust the structure, you will not live in the house. If you do not trust the Lord, why would you live in His Presence?

On the other hand, there are those who do not believe that here is an enemy who seeks to overtake them. Remember the story of the three little pigs who set out on their own in the great big world. Two of them built shelters that would not withstand danger. The wolf easily toppled the homes they had constructed. The huts built in haste to get back to living life and entertaining the world. The two fled to their brother’s home who had taken the time and expended the energy to build a sound structure that would not fall down when the enemy arrived. His faithfulness and obedience saved his family from being devoured by the big, bad wolf. Friend, there is an enemy out there that wants to steal you from the Lord. But I have good news…

The enemy is walking around like a “roaring lion” looking for someone to devour. Those who stand alert, watch out for him, stand firm against him, and remain strong in faith cannot and will not be overtaken. It is up to you and me who to believe. The lie of the enemy may sound like a powerful lion who is about to attack but the truth of the matter is “you will trample upon lions” and “you will crush fierce lions.” It is the Word of God so it is true. The only power that the lion has over us today is that which is allowed. The truth of the matter is there is no power in his roar. It is but a kitten’s mew in the ears of a believer.

Daniel 6:16-23 (NLT) So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night. Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.

The king could not defy his own order. If he did not put Daniel into the lion’s den, it would be to go back on his word and subsequently cause a ripple of uncertainty to ripple through his kingdom. His power and authority would not allow him to go back on this decree even to save the man of God. Sound familiar? God is not a man. He cannot lie or change His Mind. It would compromise His Authority and make His Power invalid. His Perfection is what makes Him Supreme and Omnipotent. He is Sovereign. This is why Jesus had to pay the ultimate price as the Sacrifice for our sin.

God sent an angel to shut to save Daniel. The king fasted and prayed all night for his servant’s safety. He wanted to believe that Daniel’s God would save him from certain death. I believe the King of Kings is always pulling for us, too. Hoping that this will be the day our trust in Him is secure. The moment that our faith keeps us firmly positioned in His Presence. There was not a scratch on Daniel when he was taken from the den that day. Not a proverbial “hair out of place.” God didn’t promise that we would not hear the roar of the lion or even find ourselves sleeping in his den, but He did promise that in His Presence, in the Shadow of the Almighty, that He would be our Refuge. He is our Protector and Defender. Psalm 91 says “for he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

Psalm 34:9-10 (NLT) Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Do you hear the roar of the lion today? Is fear creeping in that you will be overtaken? Do you feel forgotten in the lion’s den sure to be consumed? Do not fear. Have faith today. God is with you. He is in you. He is working for you. The roar of the lion is based on his hunger not his power. In fact, the lioness are the real huntress in nature. The king of this world may be asserting his power but it is temporary and will soon be destroyed. His breath is filled with lies. He walks with his “pride” which is the small realm of influence that he has. The enemy is desperate. He cannot overtake anyone who dwells in the refuge called God’s Presence. Those who trust the Lord will not only survive but thrive lacking no good thing.

Proverbs 28:1 (NLT) The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.

I believe that based on Proverbs 28:1 – the Lord does not want us to cower in His Presence but become filled with boldness and confidence because He who is greater lives in me. When will the church start roaring back at the world? When will our voice shout to the victim running from the lion to come with us where you are safe from harm? When will the church become the refuge that Christ ordained us to be? When we stop running from the lion’s roar and come back roaring! Praising His Name. Trusting His Word. Having faith in His Kingdom enough to live there now and invest in our future with hope.

Psalm 91:14-16 (NLT) The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

Lying in bed in the middle of a foreign country surrounded by the jungles of Africa, I did not feel one ounce of fear when I heard the lion’s roar. Why? I knew that I was well-protected. I could hear the sounds of the night and felt the darkness surrounding me but it did not cause me to fear or worry that I was in any danger. God wants His Presence to be that profound in our life. So that when the enemy shouts at us, we are not afraid. When darkness is foreboding, the Light of His Love comes shining through. During the tests and trials that are inevitable to develop our faith and trust in Him, the Lord has given us freedom that no man or beast can take from us. The only weapon the enemy has to use against us are his lies. Once you know the truth, you will no longer believe the lie. With all this in mind, how loud is the lion’s roar now?

Come into His Presence today with boldness and confidence. The Lord wants to be our refuge and strength. It is up to us if we will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty with peace that passes understanding and inexpressible joy or will we live on the run? I choose you today Lion of Judah. Give me back my voice. Fill my mouth with Your Promises today to dismiss every lie the enemy offers. I trust you today! Let the lion’s roar.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Run and Hide

Cropped view of a runner tying her shoelaces while standing on the sand at the beach

Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT)

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

 

Life doesn’t always make sense. In fact, most of the time all you can do from one day to the next is shake your head and keep moving. I don’t understand how we made it to this place and all the things that have occurred over the last several years. Our life has been a whirlwind of activity. At the end of the day, it is of comfort just to count heads and do a quick up and down to realize it’s all good – thank you Lord we made it. Time passes. Seasons change. It takes human beings time to catch up. Twisting and turning we wind up in places that we never expected doing things that challenge our comfort zone.

God is with us. Those who have named Jesus Savior and Lord will never be without Him again. His Presence is in us. He is with us. The Essence of God that fills us has a name – He is the Holy Spirit. He is our guarantee of all the good things that God has promised us. The Spirit identifies us as Children of God just as our DNA points back to our biological parents. There is absolute and complete joy for those who learn to live in the Presence of God even though that place is within each of us. To taste and see that the Lord is good is only the beginning. When we become consumed with His Presence and the desire to remain there – everything changes even when not a single detail of our life is different.

My dear friend, Marilyn, lost the love of her life to cancer a few years ago. It was discovered but progressed too rapidly and he went home to be with the Lord. If you met her today, you would have no idea that she had endured such a loss. Her countenance is not that of a grieving widow lost in a big world all on her own, but she glows in the Glory of God. Why? In her grief, she chose to lose herself in the Presence of God and He filled her with joy and peace that is not available in the place we called home and life. Does she miss her husband? I am quite sure that she does. The joy of the Lord fills every broken part of our life while the Lord heals us and delivers us from the inside out. If we could find our way into His Presence, life would be different.

Psalm 27:4-6 (NLT)

The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; He will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music.

 

Getting back to one thing is a difficult task in a world as complicated as this one. A place that demands every fiber of our being just to survive concepts like “let go and let God” seem like foolishness until our options are exhausted. Entering the realm of hope, we run out of solutions to our own problems. When the world has exhausted all efforts and there is no satisfaction, desperation leads us into the Presence of God. If you are like me, I wonder why I avoided such surrender for so long. There is something about the moment we allow God to take over even if it is only a second before we grab back the controls. It’s okay. It’s human nature. He knows exactly what we are capable of and how long it will take for us to come back. In those quiet moments of complete brokenness, He fills us with love, peace, joy, acceptance that only grace will allow. Suddenly, the problems that we face, trials too big for us to endure and testing beyond our comprehension do not matter – we are with the Lord. He takes that burden and pressure off of us until, of course, we grab it back.

Everyone is going through something in this life. Don’t let their tough exterior fool you. It is the moment when we need that one thing that God thing the Helper who is stronger and bigger than our problems that we run and hide in Him again. His Spirit inside of us has been waiting. Like a mom with a warm towel who catches their soaking wet child running in from the rain, drying them vigorously so they will not catch cold, removing their heavy cumbersome clothing to make them more comfortable and the one who cares for them completely. This is God’s Relationship with you, His Child. This is how He wants to take care of us each day not just on the ones that are too much for us to handle.

Psalm 19:7-9 (NLT)

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair.

 

The Word of God is not all about rules and regulations. It is not the hammer of God in our life but our helper. It shows us the way into God’s Presence. God is in us but that doesn’t always mean that we get it. At least, I don’t always get it. The Spirit and Truth agree. They are partners one holding each of our hands ushering us closer and closer to the Lord. It really hard to turn around when we are holding hands with two people and so it is with the Holy Spirit and Word of God. God’s Way is perfect. It revives our soul which could really use it after living just one day on earth. He makes the way simple for those of us who tend to complicate things. God’s Way is always the right way. It always leads to blessing and prosperity if we will walk in it.

Psalm 32:1-4 (NLT)

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. 

The Presence of God is never oppressive. Jesus cleared all that up when He died for our sins. When David and his men were moving the Ark of God (His Presence) back into the City of David – it slipped. One of his men reached out to catch it and keep it from falling, he died on the spot. Our sin once kept us from experiencing God in such a way, but now thanks to Jesus we can have a full on encounter with God! The joy that we find in His Presence is possible by His Grace. When we fail or fall short, it is the grace that we find in His Presence that keeps us from falling completely. He catches us with mercy and sweeps us away in His Love.

There is a great deal of change occurring in my life lately. There are many details I do not understand. I feel as though I am walking in a daze. The only thing that I do know is that God is good. His Word never fails. I find joy and peace in His Presence. It is more than enough to make me run and hide there until everything is worked out for His Glory.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

 

When Uzzah died reaching for the Ark of God, David was shocked. He was mad. He didn’t understand so he hid the Ark away in Obed-edom’s house for three months. The Lord blessed this man’s entire household. David saw this and then decided to move the Ark of God the rest of the way. As he entered the city with the Ark of God’s Presence, everyone celebrated as the joy of the Lord entered in. (2 Samuel 6) The Presence of God inside of us is a powerhouse. It is too big to comprehend but attentive to even the smallest detail of our life. His Extravagant Love is amazing and overwhelming all at the same time. It is an all-consuming fire that is uncontrollable so we become a bit apprehensive in our approach unless we fall in desperation. Not everyone understands or welcomes this joy and peace that we have found simply in knowing Jesus, they think we are crazy. Michal felt that way about her husband for the moment he was in the Presence of God leading the Ark into the city – he danced unashamedly and undignified before God. David was after God’s Heart and really didn’t care what other people thought about it. He failed but never fell. God kept David in His Hand all the days of his life. Not because David was perfect, but because he chose to live in the Presence of His God.

I know. I really do. Life is hard. We expect God’s Glory but don’t know where to find it in the details of our life. I have experienced pain and brokenness just like you. Nothing is wasted when we haul our mess and all its little pieces into the Presence of God and leave it there. He takes all those details and makes good on every promise. (Romans 8:28) Only God can perfect that which concerns us (Psalm 138:8) if we want His Way, His Plan and His Word to work in our life. When life is bearing down, and I am gripped with fear, confusion and lapse into worry – it is His Presence that I run in to hide. It is that place where He fills the voids in my life with His Peace and Joy. His Power is working in my life. But I am just a weak and helpless human being who needs my Great Big God! He can be found. I must come boldly to His Throne living in His Presence where I find all the Grace, Mercy and Love that I need to thrive in this life and forever.

Ephesians 3:12 (NLT)

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.