Tuesday, October 10, 2023

GOD'S comfort for those in exile (Isaiah 40)

Do you ever just feel overwhelmed by the news? I don't even watch it and right now I am feeling overwhelmed by it. My heart grieves about what I am hearing. I hate evil. I hate its nonsense and lack of respect for the dignity of life.

I catch myself in these moments and realize I need to get my mind focused on God. This morning I asked Him to show me what I should study for my morning time with Him. He led me to Isaiah 40.

I love listing out what I can know about God and His character. It helps me to stay focused on hope.

This morning the list was long on what I can know about God based on Psalm 40. It reminded me that when we wait on the LORD we, too, can renew our strength and mount up on wings like eagles.

For God is our COMFORT, PEACE, forgiveness, glorious, breath, TRUTH, might, SHEPHERD, reward, gatherer, leader, JUSTICE, counselor, measurer, IMMEASURABLE, INCOMPARABLE, GREAT & MIGHTY, namer, CREATOR, POWERFUL, UNSEARCHABLE, enabler, and renewer.

I made the highlights with bold based on what I really needed to remember as I pray.

Which one(s) ministers to you?

I am praying for the peace of Jerusalem. I know you are, too.

It is so important to be in the Word. To be with Jesus. To be transformed!  

Shalom y'all.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

What is spiritual leprosy?

What is spiritual leprosy? 

Well, let's first consider what happens with physical leprosy. Upon enough exposure it can be caught. Apparently, a one time exposure does not catch but continued exposure puts you at higher risk. It will then penatrate and begin to cause nerve damage and affect the appearance of your skin. If not treated it will cause you to lose the ability to feel, see, and breath. 

Now, what is spiritual leprosy. It is when we allow ourselves to be exposed to and desensitized to behaviors and circumstances that cause us to lose our spiritual discernment (sense), spiritual sight, and spiritual breath (ability to speak life). 

I was reading Numbers 12 about Miriam and Aaron complaining against Moses. Their complaint was most likely born of jealousy because they said, "Has the LORD not also spoken to us."

Or maybe their spiritual leprosy started out of comparison. Or as one Hebrew tradition tells a story that Moses' wife, who was a Cushite, complained to Miriam about Moses. So Miriam continued the rant. 

So possible orgins for spiritual leprosy are complaining, comparing, and jealousy. Exposure to these deaden us to our spiritual senses and our ability to be God's instrument to speak life.

I have always been frustrated by the fact that Miriam was struck and not Aaron, but I realize now that the story reveals the why. 

Because Miriam's name was listed first in saying that they spoke against Moses we discover that she is where the root began in this spiritual leprosy. God likes to deal with the root. 

We also notice that Aaron repents immediately. He knows that he sinned and asked for forgiveness. I imagine Miriam did as well, but because we are not told she did, we can assume it was not as quickly as it should have been. 

Miriam is a prophet like Moses. What she speaks carries alot of weight. God reminded them that He speaks to His prophets through dreams and visions.  But He then pointed out that He speaks to Moses mouth to mouth. This means that when Moses speaks God is speaking through him. There is a special anointing that God gave Moses that He did not give Miriam. She knew it, but in this moment she forgot it, and allowed spiritual leprosy to deaden her to her sinful action. This is why she was disciplined.

It has nothing to do with Miriam being a woman and Aaron being a man. It had to do with the root that was born in her heart and pouring out of her mouth. It had the potential destroy the unity and community in the camp. It could spread.

Aaron's exposure obviously in this moment was not as deep as Miriams.

This should cause all of us to pause and ask, What am I allowing in my life that is causing spiritual leprosy?  Am I complaining? Am I complaining against God's leader? Am I acting out of comparison or jealousy? How am I breaking the unity in my community? How am I not speaking life but death with my words? 

What really caught me was God allowed for a time of cleansing to take place. See removal from the camp would enable her to deal with her deep roots that needed to be brought before the LORD in repentance. It would allow her time to reflect on her words and their impact. It would allow her to seek to draw near to God again and allow her physical leprosy to be completely gone so that others would know she was clean. And we know clearly that God was just as concerned for her spiritual cleansing! It was both! 

Sadly, her actions and punishment effected the entire camp. They were then required to sit for 7 days, too. Seven more days not in the promised land. Seven more days added to their journey. But, it was also seven days for them to reflect on their own spiritual leprosy. Would they learn from Miriam's discipline? 

After her Seven days were over there was restoration. She was brought back to the camp and they continued on the journey.  There is hope in this. She was restored to her community. But, there were consequences. From this point in Scripture we do not hear about Miriam's role as a prophet again. We are only told when she died.

Spiritual leprosy has its consequences. It infects the person and has the potential to spread. It can and will cut you off from your community. Miriam's story should be a serious reminder for us all. Do not take lightly when you recognize the spirit of complaining, comparison, or jealousy in you. Repent immediately and ask God to deal with it. And put a guard on your heart when you see it or hear it in another. Pray and ask God to help you find a way to be the one that stops the disease and brings healing by speaking life and not death into the situation. 

It is amazing how we can learn so much from God's Word. It is important to be in the Word, so we can meet Jesus, and be transformed y'all. 

Shalom y’all!

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

How to pray when life is hard

Sometimes life can hit us with many blows. As I sent this prayer to one of my beloved this morning I realized I should post so others can take hold and pray it, too.

My beloved friend, when Greg and I were in the worst season of our lives, I realized I had forgotten how to praise God. So, I began a journey of studying the prayers in the Bible. I called it Redeemed to Praise. As I studied the prayers, I realized that lifting came when praise was lifted up, so I decided to fast for 40 days of asking God for anything. Instead, I simply praised Him for what I know about Him. This became my soul talk and prayer walk. 

Watch and pray...

Father, You are the Great I AM. You are the Great Physician. You are my present Help in my time of need. You are my hope, my shield, and my deliverer. You give sustenance and endurance. In You am resilient. 

You are my immeasurably more and way maker for You make all things possible because You are my provider.

This is what I know!

In these I give thanks. In these I give You praise!

I am so glad I am Your child and that when I seek You, I will find You. Thank you for the truth that when I knock You answer. 

I am Yours, and You are mine. You are the Prince of Peace, and because of Jesus, I have the Prince of Peace in me. 

Your Holy Spirit resides in me. I love that He alone guides me in all truth. He is my helper who comes alongside me, assists me, and helps me. Thank you! You know my needs, my wants, my desires, my hopes, and my dreams. You see my pain, my suffering, and my agony. 

You understand what is happening in my life, and You promise that if I seek to fulfill Your purposes You will use it for good. You also promise that if I commit something to You, You will grant me success. 

I recognize this as true. Your success, not man's is the safest place to be. Truly, I would rather stand one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere. 

In this I give You my praise and thanksgiving. Here, I am LORD, I am Yours. I trust You because Your peace surpasses all understanding and in you it is mine to take hold. 

Thank You for all of these truths. I rest in them.

 In Jesus' name, amen

This season became my daily habit. I would much rather praise God than ask God because when I praise Him for what I know about Him I am choosing to believe Him and trust Him. 

This season radically changed me and I believe it did others because the LORD inhabits the praises of His people.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

How do I keep my hand on the throne of the LORD?

Do you ever feel like you are in a battle and just don't know how to win? Some battles are so obvious because the enemy is quite clear, but other battles are mysterious and we just can't see where it is coming from or why. 

This morning I caught something I have never seen before and it captured me.

I heard this phrase in a message by Rob Reimer. He said, "a hand on the throne of the LORD" showed Moses authority came from the LORD when His hands were held up so Joshua could defeat the Amalekites.

Once I heard the phrase, "a hand on the throne of the LORD" it was like a download of moments in my mind when I had taken the time to stand firm in prayer seeking the LORD and discovered victory after I had kept my hand on the throne of the LORD. I know the beauty of Jehovah Nissi... GOD as my Banner. 

I immediately had to go digest the passage and see what I discovered.

What did I learn about God?
1. Prayer brings about conversations that lead to the ...
2. Plan and process.
3. People (who to show and who to take along).
4. Provision (tools, nourishment, history, and covering).
5. Presence and power! 

How do I keep my hand on the throne of the LORD for victory?

1. Don't be afraid to question people testing God.
2. Seek the LORD
3. Listen to and obey what God reveals
4. Call out leaders and give the God's plan.
5. Hold onto God's authority and lift it up.
6. When I get weary I need to stand firm, position myself for a better stance, and seek help from others.
7. Praise the LORD for His presence, and provision.
8. Take the LORD at His Word.

Beloved, this is yours, too, if you just seek Him and believe in Him. Just try it out in your circumstances. Place your hand on the throne and ask God to show you that He is your banner! 

Shalom y’all!

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Witnessing to a devoted leader based on Acts 10

Sometimes when I interact with someone who appears very godly, I think that there is no need to share Jesus with them. They are already good. Have you ever felt like that? A good or moral behavior means a person already knows God. What if that is not so?  What if it is an open door? 

Today's story in Acts 10 has always been the story that God has used to show me that He notices good and moral behavior,  but He still wants us to be in a relationship with His Son!

This passage is about Cornelius. He is a Roman soldier that was devout in prayer, feared God, and gave generously to the poor. But there was something missing. So God sent him an angel to direct him to Peter so he could hear.  This is why we must be listening.

Now, Peter had his own issue. Peter did know God's son, but he was a racist. I know that is a harsh word, but he still had things inside him that did not honor God that needed to be dealt with. For Peter it was that he considered non-Jews unclean. Yet, all people are created in the image of God and Peter needed to understand this truth. So God gave him a vision when he was praying and challenged his thinking. This is why we need to pay attention and listen to hear what God is showing us.

God met both men where they were at. Cornelius in his devotion that needed Jesus and Peter in his devotion to Jesus that needed repentance and acceptance of all people.

I couldn't help but wonder at what Peter shared with Cornelius. What truths were considered so important for Cornelius to grasp?

1. God shows has no favorites. He shows no partiality.
2. Anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God. Regardless of nationality.
3. Jesus is LORD of all.
4. Jesus is good news.
5. Jesus is peace. 
6. You must produce the fruit of repentance.
7. Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit.
8. Jesus was affirmed by God at His baptism.
9. Jesus did good and healed the oppressed.
10. God was with Jesus.
11. Jesus was killed on the cross.
12. God raised Jesus on the third day.
13. Jesus appeared to many but not all after He rose from the grave. 
14.  Jesus appeared to the disciples and ate and drank with them after He rose from the grave. 
15. Jesus gave the command to preach and testify that He was appointed by God to judge the living and the dead.
16. All of the prophets bore witness to Jesus.
17. If you believe in Jesus you will be saved and receive the forgiveness of sins.

In this short discourse, we are provided the most basic truths of what we need to know about Jesus and what we need to share.

While Peter was still talking, the Holy Spirit fell on the people and they were given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Remember, the Holy Spirit is the one who guides us in all truth.

Imagine the peace that covered Cornelius and his whole household that day. Up to this point, he was working at being good, but now Cornelius would serve out of peace and gratitude not trying to win the favor of God, but know he had already received the favor of God. His devotion will now be done out of gratitude and blessing.

At this time in your life which one are you more like? Cornelius or Peter? 

It is important to be in the Word. To be with Jesus. To be transformed.

Shalom y'all.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Aunt Jeannie's Last Bible Story

As I looked down at this photo on my phone, I realized that Ruth was the very last Bible story that Aunt Jeannie (Greg’s Aunt) heard before she passed. Last weekend, Greg and I made a hurried trip to Illinois to say goodbye for now. At one point Greg had the privilege of living with Uncle Stan and Aunt Jeannie. It was a good memory for Greg in a season when life was not good. Uncle Stan and Aunt Jeannie provided Greg and Darren with family and love. So, when we heard about Aunt Jeannie taking a turn for the worse we rushed there because Greg needed to let her know how much he loved her.

Our time was precious. Holy. On our last afternoon with Uncle Stan and Aunt Jeannie, they wanted me to share the Bible story of Ruth because I had given them a bandana from our last trip. She had me hang it up in her room so she could stare at it and everyone coming in could look at it. There is something very beautiful about how family affirms us.

Greg and I helped them nestle in and get comfortable. Hospital rooms are so cold and as we get older our bodies seem to always be cold. They were like two little bugs all snuggled up in their blankets as I stood to tell the story of Ruth. I tried very hard to keep my storyteller voice quieter than normal since I tend to project. As I started telling the story they both smiled at me and started nodding their heads as they remembered the story. I felt inspired and blessed.

By the time I reached the fourth row of the storyboard, I noticed they were both starting to nod off to sleep. I looked over at Greg and he smiled at me the same way he did when the kids were little and we felt the honor of accomplishing someone into the gift of glorious rest. There is something peaceful and magical about these types of moments.

I slowly started lowering my voice more so that it did not startle them awake as I told a little more of the story until I knew for sure they were sound asleep. What an honor.

Later that evening, Uncle Stan told me he remembered exactly where he fell asleep. He knew it was the fourth row! I love that he knew the story so well that he could identify where in the story he rested.

So, today as I looked at this image of the storyboard hanging on the wall, I had this gift of remembrance cover me. I am so thankful that we went. It will forever be a treasure to Greg and me. But, to have been the one to tell Aunt Jeannie her last Bible story just caught me off guard.The morning after I told her the story Aunt Jeannie went home to be with the LORD.  I wonder. Will she tell Ruth that she was just listening to her story the night before?

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the lesson we taught in South Asia about Providence, Providence is when God uses the ordinary to bring about His supernatural plans.

Shalom y’all!

Jesus' Story and Message Revealed

My friend called me yesterday afternoon because she needed to process something. She said I am always concise in my responses. I had to laugh because I don't think I am concise. My posts prove it, but I sure do appreciate it when I receive a concise answer or message is given that packs a punch. 

Yesterday, I was studying John 1:19-51. This passage shares about Jesus' calling of the disciples. It truly hits home on what is important to know. I realized John was concise in sharing what mattered in His message. 

Probably 10 to 15 years ago, God revealed to me something beautiful in this short passage. As each disciple was introduced to Jesus they called Him a different name or spoke of an aspect of His identity. If you read just the titles given in this passage you will hear Jesus' story and message. John knew how to be concise and pack a punch in a story.

This is what God revealed to me so long ago. It still ministers to me powerfully today.

1. Lamb of God: Jesus' sacrifice (spoken by John).
2. Son of God: Jesus' divinty (spoken by John). 
3. Lamb of God: Jesus' sacrifice (spoken again by John). 
4. Rabbi (Teacher) : Jesus' calling (spoken by two disciples one of them was Andrew).
5. The Messiah (Christ): Jesus' title (spoken by Andrew).
6. Written about by Moses and the Prophets: Jesus' Old Testament History (spoken by Philip).
7. Jesus of Nazareth: Jesus' New Testament History (spoken by Philip).
8. Son of Joseph: Jesus' humanity (spoken by Philip).
9. Rabbi: Jesus' calling (spoken by Nathaniel).
10. Son of God: Jesus' divinty (spoken by Nathaniel).
11. King if Israel: Jesus' reign(fulfillment): (spoken by John).
12. The Son of Man: Jesus' Humanity (Spoken by Jesus).

Remember that repetitions are important! Jesus' sacrifice, divinty, humanity, calling, and title are repeated. Repitions shout that this is important!

Also, notice that each person identified with different aspects about Jesus. This is because God will uniquely meet us where we are at and will reveal Himself to us in what will speak to our heart language. It will be different for each person. 

The following two are blessings of what Jesus does for us and not necessarily a name. 

1. Takes away the worlds sins: Jesus' gift (spoken by John).
2. Baptizes with the Holy Spirit: Jesus' blessing (spoken by John).

So why did John write about the disciples calling Jesus certain names when Jesus invited them to follow Him?

Is it to help us seek how we should know Him?

Is it to reveal Jesus' story and message?

Maybe he had no clue what we would discover from his notes. But it sure is obvious God was penning Jesus' story through John.

What character traits of Jesus do you identify with today? 

What character traits did you identify with Jesus when you started to follow Him? 

Right now my word is glory. I am seeking His glory to be revealed to me and basking in His wonder awe!  Which is a revelation of His divinity. I want to know Him more this way!

I would love to hear what yours is! 

Shalom y’all!