Saturday, March 22, 2008

Loved by My Beloved

I wasn't sure that I was going to share this entry on the blog... it's more like a journal entry. What the Lord showed me yesterday was intensely personal and yet not for me alone. The same sentiments of love that He expressed over me are His Words to you. The following is simply the dialogue between the Lord and I yesterday - Good Friday - as we considered "Day 80 - Please, Father" in Beth Moore's book "Jesus, 90 Days with the One and Only"...

"Karrie, settle in with Me. Just as you love to testify to My Father's greatness, so do I!"

We read Mark 14:32-42. I encourage you to take a few moments now to read these verses before you continue. Some quotes from Beth...

"Never minimize the moment by thinking God couldn't have removed the cup. Do not subtract God's freedom of choice from this picture. God could have chosen to reject the way of the cross. After all, He is the Sovereign of the universe."

"That God could have stopped the process yet didn't is a matchless demonstration of love. Can you think of anyone for whom you'd watch your only child be tortured to death?"

(No, Father.)

"Luke's Gospel tells us His sweat dropped like blood, a condition almost unheard of except when the physical body is placed in more stress and grief than it was fashioned to handle. Do we think God sat upon His throne unmoved?"

"Like a body that rejects a transplanted organ, the human body of Jesus Christ was practically tearing itself apart. The full throttle of divine impact and emotion was almost more than one human body could endure. The stress had nearly turned Him inside out. I do not make this point to emphasize His weakness. Quite the contrary. In fact I find the scene recorded in John 18:6 portrays His incredible power. When Jesus told the crowd, 'I am He,' even overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, the proclaimed presence of Jesus Christ knocked the mob to the ground."

"Your God-ness could not be diminished for a moment, in or out of that prison of flesh. Lord, don't let us forget You, who submitted Yourself to the hands of sinful men, were very God."

(Lord, I am so selfish, so hard-hearted. If left unchecked, by You, I would attempt to reduce the God of the universe to a mere equation based on the variable of me... I'm either obeying badly - because I don't want to obey enough or because I've been so disobedient that I'm in bondage - so You couldn't possibly love, bless, touch me... or I've been 'better', drenched in legalism, so maybe now I'm deserving of Your love, blessing, rescue, the knowing of You... Lord, when I reduce You to being reactive to me, I attempt to remove Your deity! Oh praise You that that's impossible! Lord, please forgive me. You knew me in light of this and such great despair wrestled with such great love that You sweat drops of blood. When Your Daddy, Who also loves me, said 'I choose not to remove this cup.' You wouldn't allow me to stand condemned and You replied, 'I am He.' Lord, according to Your Word, that's Who I want for my Bridegroom.")

"And Karrie, you're who I want for my bride!"

Overwhelmed to tears...

(Lord, may I walk in the deep, personal, intimate relationship with You - Who sacrificed it all - to declare me Your choice as "Bride". I accept! May I learn how to live this marriage out with You, my Beloved! Please teach me, show me, guide me, teach me. May my gift of obedience to You be just an expression of my love for You!! May I give - devote - my life's energy to walking where You walk and to pleasing You. Your love for me ALWAYS guards and protects, nourishes and nurtures, extends to and blesses me! Your favor rests on me for I am Your beloved!)

I had been anxious about singing at the Good Friday service. The song that I was singing hadn't been my first choice - but it was His! It's called "At the Cross" by Hillsong and some of the lyrics are "Oh Lord, You've searched me. You know my ways. Even when I fail You, I know You love me..." As I was saying, "I'll let them hear our love song..." the Lord corrected me saying, "No, I let them hear Our love song for I've placed you there to sing."

I began to get ready to leave. The Lord and I continued our dialogue. I was asking Him for opportunity to write/testify to the Father's greatness through Christ. I wondered back to the way our conversation began that morning. The Lord interrupted my thoughts...

"I testified to My Father's goodness when I spoke of Him not exercising His freewill to remove this cup. You were worth it, Karrie!"

I have never felt more loved...

Good Friday will never look the same. I will never be the same. What about you?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rise Up and Walk!

"'Man, your sins are forgiven you!'... But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, answered them, 'Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, Arise and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has the power and authority and right on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralyzed man, I say to you, 'arise, pick up your bed and go..." (see Luke 5:20-24)

The Lord called these words to my mind this morning as we were talking over the last number of days. I've been in a season of battle. One of the battlefronts has been speaking the Truth to myself when my emotions have been telling me something different.

For example, my emotions have screamed at me, "this is too hard!" The Truth is "now what I'm commanding you this day is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach." (Deuteronomy 30:11) Or, "I can't do this!" needs to be defeated by "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) I could give numerous more examples but the Bible says that I'm not being tempted by thoughts that are uncommon to man. You probably can fill in the blanks because you hear the echoes of lies yourself.

Well, I've been struggling with all my might to combat these lies with Truth. Part of me recognizes that there's progress in this - at least I'm fighting! I've spent most of my life rocking on the sea of my emotions. But the Lord revealed to me that I've slipped back into that performance-based "got to get it right so that I deserve His love" mentality instead of admitting to myself that I'm incapable in my own strength and deferring to the Almighty One.

God is so good! He knows that I like to see the picture. The battle began and I raised my Sword high and shouted the Truth! Then, as war raged around me, I lost sight of my Commander and the ground I was taking and saw instead every one of my imperfections. Before long, I was no longer advancing declaring "victory is the Lord's" and raising Sword and Shield but I was cowering on the battlefield, hiding under a shield that I was no longer using properly.

There is a vast difference between standing on the Truth and walking by faith. If I've spent a lifetime retreating, standing on the Truth is a good start, but the Lord has so much victory for us. Christ died so that our victory could be complete!

Just like the paralyzed man in the verses above, I have been paralyzed by my defeats rather than remembering that I'm forgiven. Grace (undeserved favor & spiritual blessing) is lavished on me just as I am. I've been redeemed! The ransom has been paid for me to walk free! And He said, "Arise... and go..."

Lord, I'm learning! I used to look longingly towards Egypt and retreat to there at the first sign of battle. Praise You that I have been able to stand on the Truth of Your Word. Forgive me for focusing on my errors and not Your prevailing might. Lord, Your Strength is at my constant disposal to advance! May I arise from this place where I had fallen and go to the place You are calling me to. Please fix my eyes on You. You are the Author and Perfector of my faith - my Commander and Chief - and You will never forsake me. In faith, I'm getting up and following You... so be it!

May you be encouraged by the following verses as I was. I hope they remind you of the strength of your sword, give you courage to once again dust yourself off, arise, raise your shield of faith and keep on taking ground! The battle belongs to the Lord!

"Now faith is the assurance (the title deed) of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality (faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses)." Hebrews 11:1

"By faith, Abraham, when called to a place he would later receive as his inheritence, obeyed and went. Even though he did not know where he was going." Hebrews 11:8

"Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the (victorious) God of my salvation! The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds' feet (of a deer) and will make me to walk (not to stand still in terror but to walk) and make (spiritual) progress upon my high places (of trouble, suffering or responsibility)!" Habakkuk 3:18,19

"For we walk by faith (we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk) not by sight or appearance." 2 Corinthians 5:7

Friday, March 7, 2008

Pressing On

Recently, the Lord has been impressing the words of Philippians 3:12-14 upon my heart and mind. Paul has just finished speaking on counting it all loss compared to the all-surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. Then he says, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on…"

I am somewhat of a perfectionist. I often forget that God Himself doesn't expect me to be perfect. When I fail - and prove I'm not - I'm tempted to listen to the lie of the enemy that says "you'll never get it right". Paul's words strike right at my heart. That's not the right response! I'm called to press on! The original Greek word "dioko" instructs me to eagerly seek after and earnestly endeavor to acquire the ultimate completion of what is yet wanting in me - in order for me to be made whole.

Did you know that for this same reason, Christ has also laid hold of me? As I eagerly seek Him, Christ, by His holy power and influence lays hold of my mind and will, in order to prompt and govern it. His desire is that I come to perceive and comprehend His good, pleasing and perfect will. What a partnership! I haven't got it down pat yet - but praise God - I'm learning!

I've really been having to practice this lately. I've been face to face with a situation that I have been in before - and not done well! My first thoughts were "no, Lord, not this. It's too hard. I can't do it." But He is so gracious! He takes hold of me and says, "this is what we're going to do. We're going to forget what is behind. We're no longer caring how you dealt with this before. You are not the same person that you were then. You are a new creation in Me. You've been radically transformed." Can I just add another "praise You, Lord"!! By the working of Christ's mighty power in me, I'm determined. I'm going to press on!

Is it going to be hard? For Christ? No. For me? Possibly. The implication given in the original text is that it is going to involve stretching myself. Is it my natural reaction to press on based on the Truth of God's Word? Not quite yet but He's changing that! It's still tempting to react based on emotions like the fear of failure. But Christ's voice faithfully echoes in my mind verses like "Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. Yes, I will uphold you with my righteous right arm." (see Isaiah 41:10)

Do you know what else that I learned about the forgetting? The Lord showed me that I need to forget how others have responded in the past too. Forgiveness involves offering other people a clean slate.

And you know what? With every step I take - even baby ones - in the right direction, I am getting closer and closer to the prize! I'm looking for a "well done good and faithful servant"! He's not looking for perfection - just a heart willing to trust that He knows what's best and respond with obedience. Praise the Lord - that comes with great rewards!!

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14