Friday, September 30, 2011

Lean In...Quick!

I am a visual girl.  I am easily distracted by what I see.  I also love visuals - pictures - to replay in my mind to help me understand things.  God knows that.  He created me that way and in His graciousness, He often paints a picture for me of the lessons He's teaching me.  This is what He's been showing me...

Last week, we had opportunity to host a number of people out at our farm.  Understand that we are a little less than a third done the renovations inside our old farm house.  People seem full of curiosity as to what we are doing as we make this house home.  I was stressed.  The To Do list seemed a mile long and the time short.  I was anxious and distracted and as only the LORD can do, I sat down with my devotional book and Bible in hand and turned the page to see that my lesson was from Luke 10:38-42 on Mary and Martha!

The Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42 NIV)

Now we could spend a LONG time on the lessons from this story but the point that the LORD was trying to get through to me that day was that I could get all worried and upset about what people would think and everything that I had to prepare or I could make the right choice and listen to Him.  He'd walk me through what actually needed to be done and what's more, He'd walk me through it with joy.  I was too distracted to recognize exactly what my response to Him was but, in hindsight, I'm pretty sure it went something like this... "Lord, You don't understand... I need to... They'll want..." and on from there.  I spent the whole day flustered.  In fact, being flustered gave way to frustration and frustration to exhaustion and impatience... you get the picture.  The day was anything but victorious and I collapsed into bed that night feeling a failure.

I am so grateful that the LORD's mercies are new every morning.  Great is His faithfulness!  The next morning, He woke me early.  Once again, I turned the page.  The questions asked, "What has Satan stolen from you?  What are some 'weapons' Satan has trusted in as he's battled against you?  How could you use this knowledge to shield yourself from his attacks?" (90 Days With Jesus - The One and Only, Beth Moore, Day 56, pg. 270)

The LORD replayed the events of the day before and showed me how satan played on my "failures".  He used the weapons of perfectionism, condemnation, self-loathing, despair and kept the invading amidst such busyness that it was hard to be still enough to hear the LORD talk me through the attack.  Then He showed me how I had surrendered jewels of my inheritance to the enemy.  I'd say, "it's too hard" then I'd make a mistake and hear "see, you can't do it".  I'd add to that, "I"ll never get it right," and surrender my hope.  The invasion of temptation and accusation raged on and on and I kept taking one step back and then another step back, constantly surrendering more and more until I had given up all freedom, joy, hope, peace...

The LORD reminded me of Ephesians 6:10-18, where we're instructed on how to battle and repeatedly told to "stand" against the enemy's assaults.  It says, "in all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one" (vs. 16). 

Those flaming darts are going to come.  Make no mistake about it.  The LORD told us they would.  And contrary to what I think I believed in my head, we're going to feel them!  They're going to assault our emotions and we are going to be tempted to take a step back and surrender ground to the enemy of our souls.  But don't do it!  Quick!  Lean into your shield of faith.  With every blow, stand firm behind that shield!  The smell of the flame says, "you can't" - lean into the declaration "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).  When you get walloped with "you're a failure" - lean into the promises of Ephesians 1:3-14.  Because of Christ, I am blessed, chosen, holy and blameless before God, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, lavished with grace!  I've obtained an inheritance!  Take that!  That's not only leaning into your shield that's learning to weild the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God!

Had I but listened to the Lord and leaned into my Shield the first day, there wouldn't have been so much surrendered plunder to take back, but the LORD used that to paint me a picture of how imperative it is to use my shield and to show me that though satan is a "strong man", amazing things happen when we have faith in "one stronger than he" as Christ "attacks and overpowers him", taking "from him all his weapons he trusted in, and divides up his plunder" (see Luke 11:21-22).

LORD, please continue to help me recognize the weapons that are so commonly used against me.  Help me to pay attention to the thoughts that are crossing my mind and take captive all thoughts that don't fall in line with the Truth of Your Word.  Please keep me from being so busy that I'm too distracted to hear You as my Commander.  Jesus paid an immeasurable price for my inheritance.  Help me not to surrender any part of it and lead me, shield and sword in hand, armor on to victory!  In Jesus' Name, amen!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

He Danced!

I learned something new about the Lord this week.  He danced!  I'm enjoying some wonderful moments with Jesus as I contemplate Him in the book "Jesus - 90 Days With the One and Only" by Beth Moore.  The LORD has really used that as a tool this week to show me some pretty awesome things about Him and myself.  Listen to this...

In that same hour He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth" (Luke 10:21).

Oh, how I wish I were schooled in the original Greek and Hebrew languages!  I am constantly amazed at how very rich the Word of God is!  It is constantly deeper and fuller than I thought.  Let me set the stage...

In Luke 10, Jesus has sent out 72 disciples, two by two, to teach and heal.  They have come back from the various towns and villages "full of joy" saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!" (vs. 17).  Christ takes a moment to affirm the authority that He has given them and then to teach that there is even greater cause for joy - that their "names are written in heaven" (vs. 20).  That is the setting for verse 21.  "In that same hour" Christ rejoiced - and not the same word for the joy of the disciples - His "joy is agalliao, meaning 'to exult, leap for joy, to show one's joy by leaping and skipping, denoting excessive or ecstatic joy and delight." (Jesus - 90 Days With the One and Only, Day 53, pg. 254)

Can't you just picture it?  Christ was so excited for His disciples to be understanding these mysteries that He leaped for joy!  He skipped for delight!  God's children were getting it!  I don't know why it caught me so by surprise.  Jesus dancing with joy.  We do it too.  We watch our children take their first steps... We've assured them that they can do it... We've cheered them on... and then watched with sheer delight as they've done it!  We've been more excited than they were.  We've snatched them up, spun them around and rejoiced!  We've experienced agalliao!

This was such a profound blessing to me in light of "Road Signs and Guideposts" (  I am learning to tell myself the truth about who and Whose I am.  I am learning to dare to believe that, in His authority, I can take great plunder ( and not only is my Lord teaching me and cheering me on, He's dancing in delight with each step I take!  Oh, how I praise You, Lord!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pure Joy!

Pure joy!  The Lord used a single word to show me an incredible lesson!  I don't know how many times I have read James 1:2,  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds but it's been many, many times!  The problem is that though I read the words exactly as they are shown above, my mind translated it into a faulty, inaccurate version that read something like this... whenever I face trials of many kinds, if I just look hard enough, there's got to be a little bit of joy to be found somewhere.  Do you see the error?  As I was reading that verse this week the word "pure" jumped off the page at me!  Pure.  As in 100%.  Like the 100% pure cinnamon container sitting in my pantry.  Whoa!
With Jesus, it is not only possible but we are supposed to consider (count it up, account for) it as pure joy whenever (at all times) we face trials of many kinds.  Not a little bit of joy mixed up with a whole lot of unexpected yuck but PURE JOY!  Friends, if we want to do more than survive and thrive when those unexpected, unwelcome experiences of life come our way, we need to change our way of thinking about them.  I don't profess to have this all figured out but I know it's going to involve me placing unlimited trust in my Trustworthy God! 

He wants me to be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience and let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that [I] may be perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing (James 1:3-4 AMP).  He calls me to trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5 NIV) and exercise a sincere and unqualified faith (the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) (2 Timothy 1:5 AMP).  When He says that in all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28a NIV) He does, in fact, mean "all" things!

Dear Father, this is a jam-packed lesson in that one little word and I am so far from comprehending how to live this lesson out!  Please help me to recognize what I am thinking when life's trials cross my path.  Help me to throw off the sentiments of pride that say "I don't deserve..." or "it's not fair..." and remind myself instead that You have a good plan for me and that even in "this" situation, You are working "all" things together for my good.  Help me to lean my entire personality upon You - emotions and all - and trust that You have the power to do what needs to be done and the wisdom to know what that is!  In Jesus' Name, amen!

Road Signs and Guideposts - part 2

Why is it so important that we know we're forgiven?  I mean really know that there's complete forgiveness in Christ?  I believe there are two reasons.  The first is that without knowing that are failures can be forgiven, we don't have the courage or the peace in our heart to practice what we've seen and heard in the Word of God (see Philippians 4:9).  The second is related to the first and I think it is best summed up in the one word - plunder!

But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.  "Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man...(Mark 3:27-28 ESV)

I've always found it rather odd that these verses came next to each other in Scripture.  It always sort of felt like a completely random change in thought!  The thing about the LORD is - nothing is random!  As I thought about it, Ephesians 6:14-15.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (emphasis mine).  In our battle against the strong man, the gospel of peace - the fact that our sins can be completely forgiven - makes us ready for the battle!  These two verses in Mark are so perfectly intertwined!  Jesus is telling us that plunder is possible and in the next breath He's answering our knee-jerk reaction "I can't do that!  Don't You know how often I fall completely short?!"  Jesus is giving us the peace and the courage to take Him at His Word and take some unbelievable plunder from our enemy's house!

So what comes to your mind when you think of plunder?  Plunder is the lost, hurting people who have yet to receive that gospel of peace.  Plunder is the vast inheritance that the LORD desires to give His people that can't quite believe Him enough to reach out and experience it.  What lies have you believed that keep you bound in the enemy's house instead of walking with Christ as a free man?  Has he told you that plunder isn't possible?

Who can snatch the plunder of war from the hands of a warrior? Who can demand that a tyrant let his captives go?  But the Lord says, “The captives of warriors will be released, and the plunder of tyrants will be retrieved.  For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children... All the world will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.”  (Isaiah 49:23-25, 26b NLT)

Plunder is why Christ came!

...and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.  When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.  And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins (Isaiah 53:10b-11 NLT)
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong... (Isaiah 53:12a NIV).

And guess what else!  The last part of that verse goes on to say that He makes intercession for the transgressors!  He's pleading our case in the courtroom of Heaven and praying for us to be victorious!  It doesn't get any better than that!

Father, so often I find myself battling with unbelief!  Instead of remembering that You sent Your Son so that great plunder could be taken from the kingdom of darkness and that we are to be more than conquerors in Jesus (see Romans 8:26-39), I drop courage on the floor and think that You can't possibly be refering to me.  How much plunder am I leaving in the enemy camp because I don't take You at Your Word?  Oh, Lord forgive me as You have promised and get me going!  Faces come to mind of people I love that are bound in chains of lies.  May I battle on my knees, Sword in hand, You by my side... and persevere as the plunder mounts!  In the Name of Jesus, Amen!