God’s Rebuilding My Temple

Please bear with me for the long-haul on this post. There is a lot I want to say, and the purpose of it is much more than a physical update about my back. Like most of you already know, God uses a lot of my daily situations to teach me something spiritual.
A praise report for today and a somewhat long testimony of what I believe it has all been a symbol of.
Two years ago, I was told that at some point in the near future, I would need surgery on my lower back because of the deteriorating disc on my L3-L4. The neurosurgeon told me disc was gone and the others above it didn’t look any better. I had already had a cervical fusion several years ago, so his report came to me as no surprise. But the thought of a lower back surgery and two bolts in my spine was scary to say the least.
At the time, a 20% risk of surgery failure and paralysis didn’t seem like a doable option, so I chose to put my faith in God and believe for healing. For 18 months, I started taking care of my body- drinking lots of water, researching natural supplements and spices that were good for me, and running every day. The pain disappeared, for the most part, and I felt like a brand new person, and I certainly did my fair share of bragging for the efforts I had made.
A couple of weeks ago, the severe pain returned, and I have to admit that fear came with it. Yesterday morning, I woke up to get ready for work, and my back literally went out on me while I was in the bathroom. I could not move; I could not use my legs; all I could do was scream. I have never felt that kind of pain in my life. My girls called an ambulance, and I ended up at St. Vincent’s ER. While I was sitting there with my family waiting for the results of the CT scan, I was pricked in my spirit to start praising God despite the fear and pain I was experiencing and recite the Scriptures I had memorized. The doctor returned with the news that my nerves around my deteriorated L3-L4 were inflamed and bulging. He gave me several shots and sent me home with medication.
I stayed in bed all day yesterday with my husband and slept all day today. Today, I got out of the bed with little effort. I can still feel the tension and strain, but I can walk.
I am not quite sure why God has allowed me to walk through this again, as I know He is completely able to restore the discs in my back, and that is what I am trusting Him for. But I do know that He has used the past day-and-a-half to remind me what all I am thankful for and to also point out some much needed areas of my heart, which still need reconstruction.
First, I am so very thankful to the sweet ambulance workers and the nurses and doctor at St. Vincent’s. They were compassionate, sensitive to my needs, and literally had me in and out of the hospital within a few hours without having to wait.
Second, I am thankful for my girls. They are two of the kindest, most compassionate, helpful prayer warriors I have ever encountered for girls their age. They took care of me like they have taken care of me for so many years. These girls are two-of-a-kind. They have so many responsibilities here at home, and most of the time, do them without complaints or reminders. They get up an hour early to have their private Bible studies and prayer time, and faithfully pick up the house, make my hot tea, lunch, and water for the day, as well as anything else I need. They keep excellent grades in school, participate on their tennis team, and are very motivated to pursue their future through dual enrollment at UA, as well as a two-hour study session for the ACT at night. They are two of the most giving and unselfish young women I have ever met—and God gets all the praise for who they are turning out to be because I certainly had little to do with it.
Third, I am so very thankful for my husband. He took off work all yesterday to take care of me and wait on me hand and foot- as he has on so many occasions. Daniel is such a patient, humble, intelligent and loving man. He has put up with my nonsense for over 9 years and never stopped believing me when I was anything but a Godly wife. My husband has a 12-hour work day from the time he leaves home until the time he returns. He does more than his fair share of chores around the house- including the dishes, general cleaning, paying all the bills and making sure our finances are in order, and the yard work. He never complains about anything, and he speaks God’s Word over me on a constant basis. He is a wonderful father, and he engages our girls in conversation, as he also encourages them in the Word. My husband is by far the greatest man I have ever met. He spoils me nearly rotten, and leaves me wanting for nothing. I do not understand how I ended up with him, but for the favor, mercy, and grace of the Almighty God. Our marriage shouldn’t have lasted a year- but we are working on #10 now, and it just keeps getting better and better.
Fourth, I want to praise God for the amazing friends and Church family I have. Three years ago, we were invited to the Church at Bethel in Thorsby. After the experience I have had in most every other church I have attended in my life, I was more than hesitant. I had quit trusting people many years ago, especially within the walls of a church. From the moment we stepped foot in the church, we were welcomed with loving arms. It wasn’t a big surprise, given that was the experience I had at many churches…but it’s been the experience I have had and the relationships God has helped us build within this church these three past years. These people have seen me at my best, and they have experienced me at my worse….and have loved me regardless. They pray for me on a constant basis; they encourage me to pursue God; they have cried with me and rejoiced with me; they have pursued relationship with me when I tried pushing them all away. My pastor and his wife have genuinely made us part of their family, as the rest of the families at Bethel. I am beginning to understand what a church family should really look like, and I am so thankful that God led us there and has kept me there even when I wanted to run away because of past pain I have experienced.
Most of all, I want to thank God for what He is teaching me through all of this. My heart has been wound up tightly with a million thorny vines. Many times, I have tried to throw it out there, only for it to be returned with more holes, and emotional rips. But God has used several prophetic words over the past week to show me that He is beginning to gently unravel those vines from my heart- in His perfect timing and way- not my own. I spent many years not believing I had any real value and feeling utterly worthless and unlovable. Although I have always been a friendly person who appeared to hold nothing back when I met someone new, it was honestly somewhat of a facade, as I was always holding back and awaiting to experience more rejection- where once it happened, I would snap and resort back to the monster that had always kept me safe from any more emotional harm. I believed for most of my life that I was full of the devil and that God was disgusted with me. Every day, God is making me more the real Joyelle that He created me to be. It is painful at times to realize how selfish and immature I am, but I am encouraged by the fact that God loves me too much to allow me to remain that old person.
I have spent the last two years, relentlessly wearing myself out by trying to make myself what I thought God wanted me to be. I unknowingly ignored the message of grace and refused to receive it freely. I bought into the idea that there was more I needed to do to ensure my salvation and keep myself from returning to the horrible person I used to be. I have been critical and judgmental of others, always looking for a problem, whether it was myself or others. I reached a place where I was becoming my own savior, and God allowed me to come to the end of myself. I believe the last week of the pain I was experiencing leading up to not being able to walk yesterday was a prophetic reminder that I can never ever do for myself was God has already freely done for me.
Saturday morning, I was hit with an emotional pain in my heart that I have never experienced before in my life. I laid in my husband’s arms and literally wept like an infant. 42 years of bottled up pain gushed out of me, and all I could do was sob and gasp for air. I recognized that I have allowed the enemy to torment me with the concerns of what others thought or felt about me, trying to please people and force relationships. I felt utterly downcast and hopeless…and God showed me the picture of the heart wrapped tightly in thorny vines, as He gently asked me to allow Him to begin unwrapping it – His way – not mine. I submitted.
I believe the pain I experienced Monday morning was God’s way of forcing me to recognize that human effort always fails when it comes to salvation. I am in great need of God’s power to change my life, and I do not have to wear myself out trying to force it to happen. Because of Jesus Christ, I am loved by God PERIOD. There is nothing I can do to earn more of it, and only the Holy Spirit has the power to transform my life.
I truly believe God works on His people in seasons and patterns. This is my season where God is completely tearing down the old temple of my heart, and rebuilding one fit for Him to dwell. I am ready for Him to have all the junk I have hoarded in my heart- all of the pain, rejection, and past experiences that I have hidden away – those things which have kept me from fully receiving God’s best for my life. He is not looking to punish me; He desires to bless me and clothe me in bridal attire.
I don’t know what you have or are experiencing in your life that might keep you from completely recognizing that God wants total control of your heart. But do know, my friend, He wants to possess every area of your heart, which means you must let Him completely empty it first. If you are holding on in prayer for a loved one that is lost; maybe it is you that has not completely surrendered….but I want to encourage you that God is relentlessly in love with you- there is not one thing you can do about it except receive what He is freely given you through Jesus Christ.
Don’t expect complete change in one night. The gift of salvation happens in a moment, but the act of salvation is a journey that God will be completing in your life until the day He returns. Don’t be deceived by the battles you see around you. Don’t waste your opportunity to praise Him – He deserves your constant praise simply because He is God- don’t let your circumstances determine your thanksgiving.
The Word of God says He inhabits the praises of His people. He literally comes to dwell in your praise. Don’t let the enemy use your circumstances to rob you of giving God His rightful dwelling place- in the praises and thanksgiving of you your heart. He will not force His way inside of your heart, but I truly believe He will allow circumstances to stir you to a place of giving up and letting go, so you can embrace His grace.
I have known of God my whole life. But I am just learning what it means to let Jesus be Lord of my life- every area of it- which means I must let go of the hurt I have wanted to keep for future ammunition. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal- but mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. I have tried fighting this emotional and spiritual battle with my own arsenal….today, I am picking up my spiritual armor and declaring that the enemy has been defeated in the throne of my heart.
I praise God today- no matter the pain I feel or the hurt I might experience at times caused by others. I choose to live my life as a constant vessel of praise. I am excited about the new season I am entering and knowing that my value comes from Jesus Christ- not from my talents, not from my intelligence, not from all my futile religious human efforts.
There are many bad things going on in this world around us….but people are spending too much time with their spiritual magnifying glasses, honing in on the work of the enemy – rather than the knowledge of a Savior that has already defeated him. I understand the temptation to point out all the evil that surrounds us- just go back and read my past blogs I have written over the last two years….but God has not called us to point fingers at evil people. He has called us to live out the life of Christ- the man who met people right where they were and showed them a life changing unconditional love—they surround us -people who do not deserve the love of God anymore than we do—-people we have been called to show love and grace—-just like Christ. And they need you to introduce Jesus to them- not the accuser of the brethren.
Abraham was old.
Isaac was a daydreamer.
Leah was ugly.
Elijah was suicidal.
Joseph was abused.
Job went bankrupt.
Moses had a speech problem.
Gideon was afraid.
Samson was a womanizer.
Rahab was a prostitute.
The Samaritan woman was divorced and a fornicator.
Noah was a drunk.
Jeremiah and Timothy were young.
Jacob was a cheater and a liar.
David was a murderer and an adulterer.
Jonah ran from God.
Isaiah preached naked.
Naomi was a widow.
Peter denied Christ three times.
Paul persecuted Christians before becoming one.
The disciples fell asleep while praying.
Martha worried about everything.
Zacchaeus was too small.
Lazarus was dead.
I once embodied the lifestyle of every villain in the Bible, but God has used His people to show me His love and grace- mighty weapons that defeat evil every time. It wasn’t the religious people who pointed their fingers at all my sin who nudged me toward a loving Savior….it has been those people who loved me while I was in the pigpen, and became the symbol of the Father who embraced the prodigal son, who ran to him when he saw him returning to him, and wrapped him in royal garment, and put a ring upon his finger—-those people who have loved me despite myself—-and praised God for my deliverance when I was too weak to praise Him myself.
Sometimes, God has to get us into a horizontal position of helplessness- just like He has me the past several days- to finally help us recognize that only He has the power to heal us from the inside out. I am so thankful for the rest He has given me these past two days- this place of learning to trust Him and believing that He is accomplishing something awesome in my life despite what circumstances I see with my natural eyes. I am quite sure He is restoring my heart, as He purges each thorny root, and fills the empty holes with His Holy Spirit-
I don’t know that any of this made any real sense…but I pray that whoever needed the encouragement receives it.
For each of you who have loved me, prayed for me, and stuck by me when I didn’t deserve it- thank you for letting God use you as a symbol of His mercy and grace. That is what being a child of God and used for His kingdom is all about. When you see me clothed in my bridal attire, know that your love has helped me to embrace what I will never deserve.

Broken

It’s been a while since God has really put something on my heart that I felt led to write…to all of you who think some of my posts are too long – then this probably isn’t the post for you lol. I wasn’t really over editing my grammar in this – wrote it quickly…and didn’t put too much effort into overthinking my punctuation, word choice, or other editing woes:
 
I have found myself in a place of complete brokenness over the past couple of months – a place where prayer became difficult, feelings were numbed, and my faith was tested. I became very discouraged and found myself wondering if perhaps I had slidden backwards, and somehow left God behind. Weeks turned into months, as I looked back to the hopeless realization that the fire and passion I had experienced for the past year was fading, and I was no longer hearing from the Lord as consistently as I had this time last year. As hard as I would try to pray and reconcile my relationship with Christ, I failed to be able to kindle the flame that was in my heart, and I found myself truly beginning to question whether God had been working in my heart at all.
 
A few weeks ago, God began breaking my heart. I woke up with a horrible sinus infection; I was terribly weak; and I was beginning to feel the familiar depressive spirit that has attacked me most of my life. I found myself flat on my face, as the Holy Spirit enabled me to cry out to God a few simple words – “create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. Take away my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh.”
 
God impressed my spirit man to look up the Scripture passage where the above verse was found, and I found myself crying out before the Lord as I read Ezekiel 36 in the light of where I found myself. I laid prostrate before the Lord for a brief time, and all I could do was cry – something I had not allowed myself to do for months and months…a place where I had asked God to bring me, but was not at all certain that I truly wanted to be.
 
As I lay there, God began to speak to my heart and revealed the place in my journey where I had stopped trusting in the work He wanted to do in my life, and I had instead began running after man’s approval. It didn’t happen intentionally, or all at once – but little by little, I had gotten to a place of self-sufficiency, perfectionism, religiousness, and ultimately, my heart had become hardened by pride. I realized the condition I had reached, but I had no idea how to break the cycle. I was frustrated with myself; I was hopelessly trying to depend on structure and routine; I had become full of myself.
 
For a solid year, God had led me on a journey, teaching me how to be obedient and faithful, showing me how to stay committed through structure and routine – something I had desperately needed in my life as I left behind the lifestyle of addiction and repetitive sin. I had started a spiritual race, fueled by a passion to know God – my efforts were indeed to seek His face, as I memorized chapters of Scripture and spent 7 to 8 hours a day reading through my Bible completely for the first time ever. I experienced complete deliverance, a renewed mind, peace within my home, and acceptance by church family. My new life had begun, and I was ecstatically committed to everything that seemed right at the time.
 
However, God had more for me, and as much as I wanted to remain in that one season, I found the spiritual color of my leaves changing seasons, as I hopelessly tried to hold on to everything God had already done – not wanting to leave it behind – and fearfully holding on when He was asking me to continue on to a new place He was calling me.
 
A dear friend of mine had spoken a word of encouragement to me one afternoon at church – a simple word, and one that did not make sense at the time. She said that she felt impressed to tell me that there was a spirit of obligation that was trying to latch itself on to me and that this spirit was not from God. I was puzzled by her words at the time, as I placed them on the spiritual shelf of my mind for future thought. It didn’t make sense at the time because I was still not at the breaking point. I was doing fine for myself, and found myself at what seemed to be the plateau of ministry and service to God.
 
The problem was, God was trying to take me into a season of learning to rest in Christ and learning to be completely dependent on His Spirit instead of the structure and ritual that had quickly become the idol of my heart – seemingly good things that I had committed myself to – perhaps, even commitments that had once stemmed from obedience to Christ – but had soon become commitments that I was keeping without question and for the benefit of self promotion rather than bringing glory to God.
 
One of the last chapters of Scripture I had memorized was Psalm 34 – and the day God began to chisel at the hardness of heart that I had allowed – He brought me back to Psalm 34:2 – “my soul will boast in the Lord, the humble shall hear thereof and be glad.” I began to meditate on those words throughout my walk that day, and God began to reveal the place where I had gotten off track. As scary as it was for me that day, I began to let the Holy Spirit examine my heart and my motives, as I found myself begging for God to do what only a few months before I had asked when I had memorized Psalm 26 – “examine and prove me – try my reins and my heart.” God was answering my prayer, and I was truly uncomfortable with what He was revealing to me.
 
In my efforts to search after Him, I had lost touch with what it meant to boast in Christ alone, and instead, I had become boastful of self. God wasn’t being glorified in my life – Joyelle was getting lots of credit and approval from men…and as uncomfortable as their accolades made me feel, Joyelle didn’t know how to move the focus on to God and off of myself. I had found myself in the midst of a million commitments, and I was spiritually exhausted. God had certainly asked me to do many of the things I found myself doing, but it was the timing and length of the season that I was holding on to – instead of being sensitive to God’s timing and season.
 
As God began to strip away at my pride, I became fearful that I had gone too far off track again, and found myself begging God not to stop the work He had begun in me. I knew what Scripture said; I knew the Truth that God would never leave or forsake me; but my feelings were telling me otherwise. My prayer life had dwindled down to a few minutes a day, if even that. My Bible study time had completely vanished. My obedience was beginning to fail. I had reached the place, where the passion that once prodded my obedience to God had waned…and I was at the end of my own abilities – a place most uncomfortable for me to find myself.
 
The morning God gave me Ezekiel 36 – I committed just enough time in my brokenness and tears to truly sit before the Lord and allow Him to minister to me at a time when my spirit man was in a desert place of barrenness, and I realized I had nothing else to offer God – a place, where today, 9/8/2016, I truly realize is right where God wanted me.
 
In Ezekiel 36, God uses Ezekiel to prophesy to Israel about the work He was beginning to do in them – to till and sow their hearts – to be glorified in and through them….and in the middle of that prophecy, He made a declaration and a promise to complete the work He had started within them, not for their sakes – but for the glory of His name. All their works had become like dung before God…works that He ultimately allowed to succeed for a time, only later to allow them to utterly fail. Wow – there couldn’t have been a better picture painted to describe what was taking place in my life.
 
You see, there is a fine line between a Spirit-led life and a religious proud spirit – a line that as much as I would like to eternally erase – yet, will eternally be the thorn in my flesh – a line that is meant to exist, and one that only God’s Spirit can help me recognize and be aware of. God certainly brings us to seasons of worshipping Him through service, but because of man’s desire for approval and recognition, it is quite difficult to recognize when God is asking us to lay down what we are doing and follow Him into the new season He wants to take us. What was once something we did for Christ, can soon become something we do for self – and it is a place that is extremely hard to recognize because it appears to everyone else that we are doing the right things and have reached some sort of spiritual peak in our lives where we are ever so important to God’s kingdom – so important that surely, we are “right with God” because of all the good and spiritual things we are committed to. However, as Scripture proves over and over again – not all good and Godly things are things He has called us to do in all seasons of our lives. What God wants is our obedience to Him and our sensitivity to His direction and correction. Sometimes, our spiritual work becomes an idol to self – and we soon find ourselves in a place of routine and structure that God is indeed wanting to wreck. God was bringing me to a place of wrecking, and I was trying to hold on to what was familiar to me. And I soon found my spiritual fuel wanting. I was in a place of working in my flesh rather than letting God work in and through me….and I am thankful He allowed me to fall on my face. I am thankful He humbled me.
 
My human nature wants God to forever complete and finish the work of removing my flesh – and although this work has been completed in and through Christ, as long as I reside in this vessel of clay – I will never be completely free of the struggle until I leave behind this carnal world and enter into Christ’s spiritual kingdom. If I could reach my spiritual destination here upon this earth, there would never be reason to depend on the work of Christ, and God’s name and reputation could not be glorified in and through me. It is not the failures of my life that will ultimately mar His reputation in my life – it is my failure to repent when I have fallen and allow God to continue to lead me that defames His name – it is the place of allowing my heart to stay hardened instead of relentlessly giving my heart to Him to break and remold.
 
God is interested in being glorified in my life. He wants me in a place of constant dependence upon Him for spiritual direction concerning my time and my talents. The efforts I make that are not built upon Him will ultimately fail….and when I find that I have very little to offer God – this in fact becomes the place where I am most useful to Him and He instead gets all of the glory instead of me.
 
God is in the business of growing fruit in my life. And God is the perfect farmer. He knows when the land needs to be purged of all that is, when the soil of my heart needs to be tilled and rested for a season, so that He can replant, and regrow what and how He sees to be useful to His kingdom in the new season He is leading me into. When I find myself in a place of stubbornness, trying to hang on to a vine that He is purging or pruning, I will soon find myself withered, juiceless, and unable to truly bring God any glory – a place of disobedience and pride…a place where in His love, God will correct and discipline me – and ultimately allow my hard heart to reach its end, so that He can create anew.
 
I am in this place. I do not know where God wants to take me next, but I do know He is tilling the soil of my heart, and He is asking me to trust Him instead of my routines. He wants me to recognize that my value and worth do not stem from man but from who He is….He wants to be glorified in my life, and that means, what has become easy for me to do – is now something He wants to wreck, so I can find myself dependent again upon His strength and not my own.
 
I am certain there are people I will fail and let down while in this season – God help me to remember that it isn’t their opinions that matter. My relationship with You is of utmost importance. Please teach me how to grow integrity in who I am with You. Forgive me because I have truly fallen. Please pick me up and put me on the right path. I am in need of your mercy, grace, and restoration. Please help me to depend on You alone, and teach me how to wait patiently and with thanksgiving for the next assignment.
 
Poetic thought:
 
I have succeeded only to find that I have miserably failed by becoming boastful in the strides I had taken-
For just like the seasons, my goodness has shifted, and trusting in myself left me shaken.
 
To abide in God’s rest is my soul’s steady search- learning what it means to walk in His grace-
My works have utterly not measured up to His call and I find myself flat on my face.
 
I struggle to find the balance between my laziness in abiding in His rest-
I really don’t know how to let Christ do the work- and let Him help me pass the test.
 
I am trying to learn to dwell in this place of letting Him test and prove me-
Revealing the sin I have camouflaged in my heart- and allowing His love to prune me.
 
This place can be daunting- the road can grow dreary- the enemy will try to tell me I’m not worthy-
But I am reminded that I never measured up in the first place – and that His blood is what cleans all my dirty.
 
I have reached a place where I understand that all my good works are like dung –
I found myself again struggling with sin and forgotten the cross where He hung.
 
My passion and purpose have ceased to drive my desire- I have grown too dependent on self-
I have found my commitment hopelessly hanging too much on how I have felt.
 
Guilt wants to shame me and tell me it’s over – the enemy screams I’m a liar-
All of a sudden God’s grace reminds me that it is is Him that pulls me up from the mire.
 
Yes, I have fallen, I have miserably failed, the truth is – I will never measure up-
Then I am reminded of God’s goodness and mercy- and His love overflowing my cup.
 
This journey isn’t over- the test hasn’t ended- and God’s faithfulness to me hasn’t ceased-
The secret is learning to humble myself and allowing spirit to increase
 
To continually find myself back on my knees regardless of how badly I feel-
Allowing His mercy and goodness to fill me right in the place where I kneel.
 
Stop trying to prove to the world that I’ve changed- trying to earn applause and approval-
Instead staying humble and boasting only in Christ and submitting to His correction and reproval.
 
I am restless and I have reached my end-
trying to get some where only to see my wheels spin.
 
Going around and around trying to figure it all out-
To maintain something I was freely given and cast out the doubt.
 
Worn out and broken I finally understand-
God’s righteousness can never be reached though my efforts as man.
 
Why look to myself to achieve all that He asks-
When He’s freely given me Christ to achieve such a task?
 
Of experiencing His faithfulness when I wanted to quit-
Of receiving His goodness when I learn just to sit?
 
In His mercy which drew me from the start-
And let His love by what perfects my heart!
 
 
Conclusion:
 
The one thing that never changes is the goodness of God.
The goodness of man will ebb and flow like the tide- failing to ever measure up to the standards of man.
But God’s goodness will keep us in His favor because His goodness is what led us to Him in the first place, and His standards are the only ones that matter.
 
The one thing that never changes is the faithfulness of God.
The faithfulness of man will falter when self desires get in the way.
But God’s faithfulness will keep us in His will- for His desire is to see us succeed.
 
The one thing that never changes is God’s mercies- as the sun comes up in the morning, so His mercies are renewed day by day.
The mercies that mankind can offer always cease when pride taketh hold of the heart.
But God’s mercy never fails. It leads back to repentance when we find that we have fallen.
 
The one thing that never changes is God’s love- it is as constant as the cross and as consistent as the Word.
The love that man can offer will never measure up to what we long for; it changes with circumstance and fails to always go the distance.
But God’s love abounds to the very depths of the human soul; it compasses our understanding; it supersedes our abilities to grasp or fully understand it.
 
I am so thankful that the character of God never changes. He is always good, faithful, merciful, and full of love.
Man’s character can never stay consistent unless it constantly abides in the character of Jesus Christ because He is love; He is mercy; He is faithful; He is good – consistently, unconditionally, and eternally- perfect.
 
The hope of this man lies in the perfection of Jesus Christ- so only in Him will I boast.
The one thing I can never attain on my own is the righteousness of God- because I am man- and man always changes. The only constant is Jesus Christ…His righteousness is the only way.
 
I am thankful that the one thing than never changes is God’s righteousness – not only is He the perfect God- He has righteously provided us with a perfect path to His righteousness- He has perfectly done it all. In His goodness, He provided us atonement for our sins before He spoke creation into existence.
 
In His faithfulness, He gave us a perfect Savior.
In His mercy, He allowed Jesus to die on the cross in our place.
In His love, He gave us the promise of salvation through faith.
In His character, He stands by His Word- this I know I can depend on every promise within it.
 
 
 

My Fervent Prayer Strategy 7 – Purity

Christ in me

I love when God leads me on a journey to learn more about Him and uses the people I love to confirm the season for the lesson He wants to teach me. The past couple of weeks, I have been learning about the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which takes place the 7 days following Passover. As I have learned that leaven relates to sin in our lives, I have been seeking God’s help to surface the areas deep within my heart that He wants to reveal and clean. As best as I can understand it, the Feast of Unleavened Bread relates to the process of sanctification – God emptying me of all the old – my dying to self, so that He can fill me completely with Himself – Christ in me – Pentecost.

For the past two months, I have been memorizing Psalm 26, and I am encouraged with the realization that He led me to memorize this chapter during this specific season. While at the time that I started memorizing it, I didn’t quite understand exactly why He led me to that particular chapter – it is now beginning to make a lot more sense. I finished memorizing it a couple of weeks ago, and I have been chewing on the first two verses ever since – “Judge me, O God, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord; therefore, I shall not slide. Examine me, O God, and prove me. Try my reins and my heart.”

These two verses are about God purifying me, and they perfectly line up with not only the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but also with the prayer strategy I am studying today -“purity.” I just love how God does that – there are truly no coincidences with Him!

Although I have experienced tremendous victories through Christ in overcoming addictions, fits of rage, and unforgiveness, there are still a lot of the old behaviors God is still purging in my life. I know I will not be a finished project until I see Jesus Christ face to face, but I earnestly seek His help as I further choose to submit myself to the process of sanctification. As I learn about my authority as a child of God, I also realize that although it cannot be earned, it also cannot be fully appreciated nor will it ever be taken serious by the enemy if I am not walking in obedience to the Word of God – hence “abiding in Christ.”

God has already peeled away many layers of sin that once covered my heart, but I recognize that there are deeper areas of sin that have been camouflaged by the addictions and anger I once struggled with – specifically – a critical spirit, a self-righteous attitude, pride, and religion – all of which God abhors.

As I am learning to daily pick up my cross, God is beginning to reveal areas He wants to “try and prove”…places where He wants my attitude and my heart to line up more with His Word – specifically, learning to love others and see people the way He does…and teaching me how to respond to the discernment He gifted me with through deeper prayer and spiritual warfare. Addiction and rage were just outward manifestations of my inwardly rotten heart – once full of bitterness, resentment, negativity, unreal expectations on myself and others, pride, fear, and manipulation.

Although I have sown chapters of Scripture into my heart as I have memorized them – they do me no good if I don’t put them into practice. God wants me to activate the knowledge He has given me by walking in wisdom – allowing the mirror of His Word to actually be the reflection that helps me adjust my flesh to it. As God’s Word examines my heart, the Holy Spirit tries and proves my heart by allowing me to encounter situations to surface my old nature and convicts my heart to realize His nature and follow it accordingly.

Every thought and reaction I could possibly think or make within my day, is a call to actually do what the Bible commands in II Corinthians 10:5 – before I speak or act, I MUST examine the word I want to speak or the action I plan to take to determine whether or not it lines up with God’s Word….this is the place where I must “cast down every imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” If it isn’t true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, or praise worthy- then I must expose it for the sin it truly is and allow the Holy Spirit to help me bring my flesh under the submission of God’s Word. This is the place where I MUST participate to the process of sanctification – one that I cannot do without the help of the Holy Spirit – but a process I MUST allow in order for God to be completely glorified in my life.

“Father, I thank You that You have set me free from all condemnation. I thank You that Your Spirit gives me life and that You have set me free from sin and death (Romans 8:1-2). I thank You that Your grace extends beyond the cross – not only giving me eternal life but also the grace to be transformed by Your Word. I thank You for Jesus Christ, Who bore my sins on the cross, so that I could be dead to sin and alive in Your Righteousness. I thank You that the wounds Jesus Christ bore were for my healing – complete physical, emotional, and spiritual healing that you have given me – a once lost sheep that You have returned to Your fold (I Peter 2:24-25).

Father God, teach me how not to let sin reign in my mortal body any longer. I present my entire self to You as an instrument of righteousness – in and through You. Sin is no longer my master because I am under Your grace (Romans 6:12-14). Thank You for the Holy Spirit, Who helps me walk out the life You have called me into, where I no longer have to carry out the desires of my flesh (Galatians 5:16). The life I once lived produced nothing but death. The life I now live, as I have been liberated from sin and become enslaved to You, is producing life-giving fruit – the fruit of righteousness – my sanctification. For I am earning the wages of eternal life – not by my actions – but through my faith in Jesus Christ and living under the grace You have freely given me in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:21-23).

Thank You for the testimony of Jesus Christ, Who has already overcome every temptation that I will ever face. You are faithful, God, and You provide me a constant escape from any sin I will ever be tempted with – Jesus Christ – my Hope – thank You for giving me endurance (I Corinthians 10:13). Please help me to stand with my loins girded about with Your Truth and my heart protected and guarded by Your Breastplate of Righteousness (Ephesians 6:14). I know that the enemy will be allowed to sift me, but You have promised that my faith will not fail, as Jesus Christ is constantly interceding on  my behalf, and the Holy Spirit is teaching me how to be obedient to Your Word (Luke 22:31-32).

Although my flesh and my heart may fail at times, You are the Strength of my heart and my Portion (Psalm 73:26). You know perfectly well how to rescue me from all temptation (II Peter 2:9). Abiding in Your Word is the covering I can always depend upon. Your Truth is my Shield and Buckler. You are trustworthy and faithful. Help me to be obedient to Your Word and to live underneath the umbrella of obedience to You and You alone (Psalm 91).”

My Fervent Prayer Study – Strategy 5 – My Past

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This past week, my family and I began studying Ephesians 1-3 and memorizing a prayer that I had written from the verses in the chapters. I was led to do this because God has been constantly confirming to me that it is time to walk in my spiritual authority.

For many years, this was something I was unable to do. Because of past failures, bad habits, and personality struggles, I really never felt deserving enough to embrace my heavenly inheritance. God’s grace was hard for me to embrace, thus making it difficult for me to extend His grace to others.

Over the last few days, God has given me a revelation about His grace – it isn’t a new revelation – just one I have failed to recognize until now – thus making it a new revelation for me :). He has opened my eyes to what it means to be “in Christ.” I realize that I have been trying to earn His grace, which is impossible.

My attempts to earn God’s grace has left me exhausted and humbled. I now realize that grace comes through my active faith in Jesus Christ alone. In, Christ, I stand forgiven and complete. In Christ, God sees me as holy and blameless. My job is to abide in this place, and I can only do this when I activate my inheritance – my spiritual authority that comes from being a child of God – a new creation where the old Joyelle is dead – and God is creating the new in me – Jesus Christ Who lives in me.

Father, I was once dead in my sin and disobedient to Your Word. I used to be just like the world; I used to obey the enemy. The devil’s spirit used to work in my heart, and I used to refuse to be obedient to You by following my passionate desires and inclinations of my sinful nature. Because of this position, I was subject to Your anger, just like everyone else. But I praise, You, God, because You are so rich in Your mercy. You love me so  much that even though I was dead in my sins, You gave me life the  moment You raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Because of Your grace, I have been saved (Ephesians 2:1-5).

I thank You that You have erased my past. Teach me to forget my past – to let it go – never to recall it again, except that You ask me to for a testimony of Your glory in me. You are doing something new in me. I am aware that it is springing up in me – now – a new season. You have made a roadway in the wilderness of my heart. What was once a dry desert, now has rivers of life flowing in it making it fertile soil for You to grow Your heavenly fruit (Isaiah 43:16-19).

I sing praise to You, and I thank You for The Name above all names – Jesus Christ. You were angry with me for a moment, but because I abide in Jesus Christ, Your favor upon me lasts a lifetime. I have spent my past seasons weeping, but morning has come, and I am in a new season of laughter and joy (Psalm 30:4-5).

I praise You because You give me new strength in my weariness. My lack is nothing for you because You are The One Who increases my power. As I learn to wait on You, You give me new strength. You have caused me to soar in victory like the eagles. You are teaching me to run with endurance. You are allowing me to walk without growing weary (Isaiah 40:29-31).

I recognize that Your grace is sufficient for me. Please help me to recognize that I can nothing that pleases You in myself or through my own efforts – but only through Jesus Christ – weak and totally dependent on You for every breath I breathe, word I speak, or action I take. I thank You that I cannot do it on my own; I would miserably mess it up. But Jesus Christ is perfectly strong in me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Because Jesus never changes and sits at Your right hand, interceding on my behalf, I will not fail. You have given me all that I need to prosper in my spiritual authority. This authority is not given to me because I have earned it. I cannot earn it. You have given it to me because I am Yours, and as an heir to Your throne, it is part of my inheritance.

Praise be to You, God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed me with ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according hath You chosen me before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before You in love (Ephesians 1:1-5).

I felt led to share something God has been speaking to me over and over again…

What it Means to Be A Child of God – Our Spiritual Authority

1. God’s people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)

2. Through Jesus Christ, the Truth has been made known to us, and the Truth has set us free. (John 8:32)

3. Because of Jesus Christ, we have been reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

4. Our sins have been buried with Christ, and He has raised us from the dead, blotted out our transgressions, and nailed them to the cross. God has triumphed all principalities and powers. (Colossians 2:11-15)

5. We have been justified by faith, and we have the grace of Jesus Christ dwelling in us. We are victorious in our tribulations, and God is glorified in us as we encounter tribulations because God uses them to teach us patience, to give us experience, and to strengthen our hope. The grace of Jesus Christ reigns in our mortal bodies. (Romans 5)

6. We are partakers of a heavenly inheritance. We have been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:12-20)

7. We are children of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. Even in our suffering, God is glorified in us. (Romans 8:17)

8. As a Child of God, every work that He did, even greater, we can accomplish because Jesus Christ is our advocate to the Father. In His name, He has promised that whatsoever we request, He will grant, according to His will. He has given us the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, and the Spirit of Truth. (John 14:12-20)

9. As we submit to God, we can resist the devil, and he must flee. As we draw nigh to God and allow Him to cleanse and purify us, He will give us a sound mind. As we humble ourselves before Him, He will lift us up. (James 4:7-10)

10. We can cast all our cares upon Him, Who cares for us. He will sober us and teach us to be diligent, so that we can resist the devil who is seeking to destroy us. Through Christ, we can stand steadfast in our faith, as God perfects us, establishes us, strengthens us, and settles us. (I Peter 5:4-11)

11. God has delivered us from the spirit of fear and has given us a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7).

12. We are children of God. He has overcome the world. Jesus Christ has made us overcomers because He lives in us. (I John 4:4)

13. We stand strong in the Lord, and He has equipped us with spiritual armor, so that we can stand against the wiles of the devil. We do not wrestle against man, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness in this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. But God has given us all the spiritual clothing that we need to stand. He has given us Truth, His righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, His Word, and the ability to pray. As we use this armor, we will persevere. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

14. God will give us whatever we ask in Jesus name, that our joy may be full in Him (John 16:23-24)

15. He has given us the power to tread upon the enemy and promised us that nothing can harm us. (Luke 10:19)

16. Jesus Christ, Who sits at the right hand of the Father, has made His enemies His footstool. (Hebrews 1:13)

17. We have the authority to bind and loose on earth, and it bound and loosed in Heaven. (Matthew 18:18)

18. We have been commissioned to carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ and deliver the message of reconciliation to the world. In God’s power dwells in us, allowing us to cast out devils, speak in new tongues, and lay hands on the sick and see them recover. (Mark 16:15-18)

19. All power is given un to Jesus, Who has commanded us to teach the world all that He has commanded, and to baptize them. He is with us and works through us in this process. (Matthew 28:18-20)

20. Our old nature has been put off, and we have been commissioned to walk worthy of the call God has placed upon our lives to edify His Body – the Church. He has properly equipped us. He has given us understanding, taken away our ignorance, and lifted the blindness off our hearts. Our conversation should reflect this. Our minds are renewed, and we are clothed in a new man, which is created in righteousness and holiness. We should walk in a way that is careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit – we should be tenderhearted and forgiving. (Ephesians 4)

Prayer for Spiritual Authority – Ephesians 1-3

Blessed be God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed me with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

According as He hath chosen me in Him before the foundation of the world, that I should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestined me unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made me accepted in the beloved.

In Whom I have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward me in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto me the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.

In Whom also I have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: that I should be to the praise of His glory, Who first trusted in Christ. In Whom I also trusted after I heard the word of truth, the gospel of my salvation: in whom also after that I believed, I was sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of my inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory…I cease not to give thanks, and I ask that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: that my eyes of my understanding being enlightened; that I may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to me who believes, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth in all. He hath quickened me, who was dead in trespasses and sins; wherein times past I walked according to the prince of power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also I had my conversation in times past in the lusts of my flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of them, mind; and was by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved me, even when I was dead in sins, hath quickened me together with Christ, by grace I am saved; and hath raised me up together, and made me to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward me through Christ Jesus. For by grace I am saved through faith; and that not of myself: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath ordained that I should walk in them. Wherefore, I remember that I being in time past a Gentile in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time I was without Christ, being an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

But now in Christ Jesus, I who sometimes was far off is made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is my peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall between me, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twin one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and came and preached peace to me who was afar off, and to them that were nigh.

For through Him, I have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore I am no more a stranger and foreigner, but a fellow-citizen with the saints, and of the household of God; and I am built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ Himself the chief corner stone; in Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In Whom I am built for and habitation of God through the Spirit…

I faint not at my tribulations for God, which is His for His glory. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant me, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in my inner man;

that Christ may dwell in my heart by faith; that I will be rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of God, which passeth knowledge,

that I might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I ask or think, according to the power that worketh in me, unto Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.

My Fervent Prayer 4 – Fortifying the Lives of Those I Love

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Father, I pray that You perfect Your love inside of me that I might reflect You in Your fullness to those around me. Teach me to be kind to others and not jealous. Father, put a guard before my mouth that I might not brag about anything except Your love, grace, and mercy. Make me humble, Lord and keep me from any arrogance.

Father, teach me to behave in such a way that I reflect Your work in my heart. Take away all unselfishness from me and keep me firmly fixed on Your desires for my life. Help me to exhibit emotional and physical self control. Help keep me from being provoked and keep me from counting the wrongs of others. Allow me to walk in constant forgiveness and purge me of all bitterness.

Lord, help me to see unrighteousness as You do. Open my mouth to rejoice in Truth. Help me to bear all that You allow me to face, believe in Your Word, and abide in Your ways. No matter how difficult life might become at times, allow me to stand firmly on my belief in You, to be hopeful in Your promises, and to endure through the help of the Holy Spirit.

Teach me how to love my husband and my children in a way that is pleasing to You. Show me how to be sensible and pure and how to manage my home with kindness and gentleness, as I submit to my husband and his leadership of our family. I thank You, Lord, that You are perfecting Your work in Daniel, and that he will be won not by my words but by my behavior as I obey Your Word and allow It to transform my life. I thank You that You are making me a wife who Daniel can trust, and he will not lack any good thing because You supply all of his needs.

Father, help me to commit all of my works to You. Establish Your plan in my life. Make me pleasing in Your sight and cause even my enemies to be at peace with me. Let wisdom watch over me. Give me understanding and discernment. Teach me to cherish and embrace Your Word.

Keep my eyes looking directly ahead and not on the past. Fix my eyes straight in front of the path You have set before me and let my gaze be only upon Your will. Let Your Holy Spirit keep my feet upon Your path and establish all my goings.

Rescue me from all destruction; keep my lips from flattering words. Break every spirit of fear from off my life and teach me how to stand in confidence of Your protection. Keep my foot from all snares of the enemy. Shine Your light upon every area of my heart that is not completely trusting in You. Help me now to lean upon my own understanding, but teach me to acknowledge You in all my ways as You straighten my path.

Teach me to raise my children in fear of You – for You are their Refuge and Strong Tower. Let my family be a sign of Your salvation and goodness. Wake me up early in the mornings to pray for and with my children, so that they may grow in their confidence of Your presence in their lives. Let them not forget Your works and give them the discipline to obey Your commands. Free them from past generational sins. Redeem them from this generation of rebelliousness and stubbornness. Give them obedient hearts and minds that are sensitive to Your direction and correction. Lord, make my children loyal and faithful to You. Let me not take pride in their earthly accomplishments, but to take great joy as they walk in Your Truth.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from my mouth, but only let me speak words which are edifying and according to the need of the season you have placed me in, so that they may give grace to all who hear them. Let my words be merciful and full of grace, as though seasoned with salt. Teach me how to respond to each person I encounter as You would.

Lord, as the end draws near, give me sound judgment and a sober spirit. Prick and move me to stay in constant prayer and give me a fervent love for others because love covers a multitude of sins. Give me a hospitable personality and keep me from all complaining. Help me to pursue peace and teach me how to build up others. Teach me how to give mercy and forgiveness instead of giving evil to those who do evil to me or speak insults to me. Allow me to instead speak blessings upon them because You have called me to do this, so I can inherit all Your blessings. Amen

The Respect Dare 4 – Vision and Prayer For My Family

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Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, I declare that You have called me to be a conduit of Your love, mercy, grace, and favor upon my family. Help me to increase in my love for Jesus Christ and my knowledge of Who You truly are and how You would like me to reflect that to my family. Teach me how to pour out Your true and perfect unconditional love upon Daniel, Alexandra, Sarah, and Jonathan. Teach me to be unselfish, humble, and merciful. Thank You for equipping me, God. Thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit to teach me and to help me complete the call You have placed on my life as a wife and mother. God, please grow Your patience, humility, self control ,and mercy in my life and use these fruits to encourage my family to trust Jesus Christ more. Use me as a constant reflection of Your grace, mercy, and favor. I diligently seek to please only You, Lord, and I am confident that You are helping me and that You will transform my family. Help me become a wife that truly understands how to encourage my husband. Help Daniel see this change in my nature and allow this to encourage him and trust You more. Thank You for teaching him and empowering him to be the leader You have called him to be. Help Alexandra, Sarah, and Jonathan see the difference in the person You are changing me into. Please use this change to encourage them and give them a greater hunger for a more intimate relationship with You. Help me to be diligent about teaching them about Jesus Christ and praying with them, as You transform their lives as well. Make my family one that resonates the transforming power of Jesus Christ and allow us to glorify You as we become a reflection of Your mercy, grace, and favor to the families You have placed in our lives. Thank you Father God.

Humbled, Needy, and Broken

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For 40 years I lived a slave to my flesh and did whatever my body told me to do. Over the past year, it seems like the theme that God has been teaching me is “abide, benefit, endure” – to abide in His presence, benefit from His goodness, and endure with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Today, the last thing I felt like doing was getting some exercise; I have had a horrible headache for the past two weeks. All I’ve been tempted to do is stay in the bed, but for fear of losing the endurance I have worked so hard to learn, I got out of bed today and was obedient. My body was screaming “no,” but I chose to put it under subjection.

After spending an hour walking and talking with a friend, we went opposite directions, and I decided to try and jog in the park. As I often do, I set a mental goal for myself – today, I was going to run four miles without stopping, in under 40 minutes.

I was humbled 2.5 miles later, when I broke my pace and began to walk because I just couldn’t jog one more step. So I laughed to myself, and I repented quietly to God for being boastful and proud in the first place.

I felt like God asked me to just take some time and walk and talk with Him, so I humbly asked Him to please fellowship and talk with me. At the very instant that I got that out of my mouth, I looked down and saw these two flowers that were perfectly laid out in the shape of two hearts and snapped a picture. I thanked God for His simple love letters like these that He leaves for me throughout my day and carried on my walk.

A few minutes later, I looked up at a light post and saw that it was marked by the number “40-20”, so I got out my Bible app and looked up the 40th book, 20th chapter – (sounds silly, I know, but that’s what I do when God seems to highlight a particular number in my path). The 40th book of the Bible is Matthew, and the 20th chapter is about the first and the last – the called and the chosen – a conversation I had just previously had with my dear friend while we were walking – not even an hour earlier. I read the chapter; I stopped and meditated upon what I read. I even sat down on a bench that God led me to while I was on my walk, where I looked down at a pile of cigarette butts that had been pushed into a perfect pyramid.

I scattered them out and counted 24 of them – wandered if there was some hidden message in that too. I got back up, continued my walk – and as silly and as unbelievable as this might sound, I decided that I should also read the 4th book of the New Testament – the 20th chapter (which was John 20) I giggled again, as I scrolled to the chapter and found the very story that my husband and I have been assigned parts for in the upcoming resurrection play.

There was no “ah ha” moment in my day, just a constant awareness of God’s presence and perhaps even His delight in me when I obey even what might seem silly to others. There have been times in my obedience that God has given me some amazing revelations and moved in supernatural ways – but more times than not – it doesn’t seem like anything of any value happens. But today, I’m thankful that I am simply learning to be obedient and listen to what I believe is His still small voice.

God woke me up this morning! As unsupernatural as that might sound to other people – it’s a miracle to me – you would’ve had to have known how I lived for 40 years of my life!

Today, as I’m running, I’m learning to abide, benefit, and endure. God has been teaching me to practice self-control and obedience. I’m learning that this fleshly shell on the outside is not truly who Joyelle is.

Sometimes, we might not know why God asks us to do a particular thing that might seem foolish at the time. In fact, we might never know the “whys” on this side of heaven, but I’m going to keep walking in obedience to my Master and looking for opportunities to serve Him throughout the day. I thank Him for the times where He puts two heart-shaped flowers in my path – just to let me know that He loves me.

Random thought – many are called, but few are chosen. I’ve often wondered what’s the difference between the “called” and the “chosen.”

At the end of my walk today, I was thinking about produce at the market – and this thought crossed my mind: I can call something a grape all day long, but until the customer walks by and selects the grapes that he will actually buy – well they’re really nothing more than fruit sitting and rotting.

When I select the grapes I want to purchase, I look for the ones that appear to be perfectly ripe, abundant on the vine , and the most fruitful – the kind that looks like it’s ready to be eaten.

I wonder if that’s how God chooses His own? “Lord, today let me be found before You fruitful, polished, and ready to be used for Your consumption.”
I’m not pretending to know how God thinks. I’m one of the most ignorant people I know.

What I am saying is that I am confident of the fact that what makes me different today is that I am constantly trying to understand who He is and what He wants from me – instead of what I want for myself. Today, I believe that I am called, and I want to be chosen.

For many years of my life, I intentionally ignored God’s voice and what I believed to have been His call on my life. I don’t want to waste anymore time as a slave to my flesh – wandering in the wilderness of this world – forsaking the approval of my Father for the popularity of man or the seeming “benefits” this world attempts to offer. Today, I choose to abide in the grace, mercy, and favor of Jesus Christ and use every benefit that He offers because of His death and resurrection. Today, I endure, and I will not quit.

I don’t want my posting what I accomplish during my jogs each day to be misinterpreted as my trying to boast in my flesh. Anyone that has known me for any length of time, knows that my flesh is really not that capable, and that I have struggled with obedience most of my life. I post the accomplishments I make because I’m trying to scream out to the world that Jesus Christ is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can possibly ask or think. My walks are something I choose to do out of obedience, as I learn to subject my flesh to what I believe God has asked me to do.

I truly believe that a day is coming soon where God’s people are truly going to have to be sensitive to God’s still small voice, and depend upon His Spirit more than ever before to ignore what our bodies tell us to do. I am trying to prepare for that day. Personally, I have practiced doing what I wanted to do for much too long. Today, I submit myself to spiritual boot camp.

When you see me on my walks – please don’t compliment me for what seems to be my personal accomplishments. I might seem to have it all together, but I’m truly completely broken. Anything, and I truly mean ANYTHING good that comes out of me – I can promise doesn’t come from my flesh. Instead, when you see me walk, be encouraged by the knowledge of who I once was, and know that Jesus Christ has changed my life in such a way that I am trying to learn to walk in obedience to Him as much as I possibly know how to, while eagerly looking for flowers along my path.

This is the time where God instructs me and constantly humbles me by showing me that I can’t do anything on my own. I am learning that I really don’t want to do it on my own anyway – what good is it to accomplish many wonderful things in the eyes of the world and find it is meaningless to God because I did it independent of Him?

I’m not looking for the applause of men anymore. I want to stand before the Lord and hear that He has, in fact, chosen me. I do not want to be one of the called but not the chosen. I want to be found standing in the grace of Jesus Christ, reflecting His glory, and basking in His delight in me.

Do not be fooled into believing that I have it all together. I don’t have it all together, people. I’m utterly dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ. Every time I step out in the morning and think I can do it on my own, God allows me to fall flat on my face and reminds me that I’m in great need of His help.

I’m learning that God is not looking to stuff my bag full of goodies, pat me on my back, and tell me to get on my own way. He is looking for me to be broken and spilled out; He is looking to become the strength, the joy, the peace, and the healing that I need to make it throughout the day. I have nothing to offer anyone except for Jesus Christ. Any joy – any peace – any satisfaction that I can offer the world of myself will only leave them wanting for more. But, when I allow God to fill this broken vessel with His presence and that overflows upon the people around me, that will be the conduit that will ultimately change their lives.
When you see me running down the street, let it be some sort of proof to you that God still changes lives. He still uses broken people. He still delivers the lost and the hopeless. He still answers prayer. He still saves the addict and the prostitute.

I’m tired of wearing a mask and acting like I had it all together. I’ve never had it all together. I take off my mask to declare to the world that I’m broken and that God is good. I am taking off my mask and letting other people know that I’m hurting and needy and that God is my ever present help in time of need. I’m a filthy rag.

“God wash me. Wring me out. Use me for Your glory.”

I’m struggling, body of Christ. I still have many days where I sit hopelessly thinking in my mind rather than praying. I get irritable and lash out at my family. I deal with thoughts of pride, jealousy, and rejection. And every day that I’m clean, I’m encouraged by counting the months that it’s been since I was last dependent on something other than God. But in the same breath, I’m also reminded that I can make the same stupid choices in the blink of an eye. When I am tempted to become proud of what God has brought me out of, I am convicted and humbled by the knowledge that I still haven’t found the freedom from the nicotine addiction that I have submitted myself to since I was 12 years old. As much as I am learning to let God strip me of my flesh, I am still constantly reminded that I cannot do it in my own strength. God is cleaning me up, one layer at a time. And as long as I live in this world, that process will never end.

If I seem foolish for sharing my struggles, then I am sorry – but I felt pricked in my spirit that people need to see me as human and trying – not religious and perfect. The lost will never be comfortable being vulnerable around me, as long as I hide behind a mask and appear like I have it all together. The only thing that truly separates me from the unbeliever is my faith and obedience to Jesus Christ – trusting Him with my life – letting Him break me of myself and teaching me to submit to His Word. I act just like a newborn baby sometimes that goes from crawling to instantly learning how to walk and hopelessly falls down. I often get full of myself and think I can do it on my own, then God allows me to fall flat on my face and humbles me, as He begins to teach me again that He doesn’t want me to do it on my own but to be completely dependent on Him.

I haven’t written a lot lately – just haven’t felt like God has really given me a word to share. But today, I felt driven to share this. Hopefully, there is somebody out there reading this who needed to be encouraged. Whoever you are – and whoever it is that you’re believing God to save or whatever change it is that you’re believing that He will do in the life of that loved one you are believing for -speak the Word of God over that situation. Abide in the Word, reap the benefit of His presence, and endure. Don’t give up! Trust God to do what He has promised.

Let my testimony be living proof that He can help the hopeless.

As scattered-brained as this post seems to me, I believe I wrote what I was supposed to – and I’ll end with this declaration –

Yesterday, I proclaimed proudly that I would run 4 miles in 40 minutes. I was humbled last night by a nagging headache that I have had for two weeks that felt like it was blinding me. I woke up today and repented to God for my boasting. In the end, my walk took me over two hours – I couldn’t jog more than 2.5 miles of it! What have I learned? God is far from finished with me….I’m not going to listen to what my body tells me to do, and I ain’t quitting!

Exceeding and Abundant

46

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 3:20

I can identify more times in my life than I care to recall, where I failed to activate the knowledge of this Scripture…where I failed to take the Scripture farther than a belief and actually practiced it. I wonder what would have happened had Andrew forgotten Jehovah Jireh’s abilities that day when Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000 with just two fish and a few loaves of bread? How sad it would have been to find this awesome miracle unwritten in Scripture because God’s chosen – didn’t choose to believe in Him who IS able to do exceedingly – abundantly – above all they could ever imagine!

Yet, I find many times throughout my personal life where I was spiritually hungry, and I didn’t allow God to miraculously provide for me a meal that would not only have sustained me, but also provided a personal imprint and testimony to all the starving people around me at the time. What if Andrew would have turned his back on the 5,000 and just focused on the hunger and the lack of food? What if the boy would have been unwilling to offer up his small sacrifice because he chose to believe there was just no way that it would ever feed the multitude he saw with his physical eyes? What would I have done with my two fish and three loaves of bread had God asked me to feed the 5,000?

In some ways, He is asking me to do just that, on a day to day basis. He is asking me to allow my life to be broken and spilled out before Him on a continual basis, so that He may pour me out as a blessing to the spiritually dying all around me. Instead, I focus on the brokenness and lack – I forget, He likes both – because it gives Him the opportunity to be Jehovah Jireh in our lives. Paul said in Ephesians 3:20 that there is a power that works within us. As a Believer, that power should be the Almighty’s anointing. His anointing provides for us in a way that only Abba Father cares enough to provide for His elect Children. For those that call Him “FATHER,” now only with their words, but by their obedience to His Word, He performs miracles that go exceedingly over and above what we could have ever gotten by our own merits and self-sufficiency.

How much is exceedingly abundantly? Well, it’s more – more than – more than I can ask; more than I can imagine! When I consider the truth and the promise of This Scripture, IT makes me feel downright silly for ever taking any of life’s concerns into my own hands…not when I have Abba Father always on standby – ready, willing, and able to do over and above all I could ever ask!

 

I don’t know why I get all riled up

when worries cause my heart to sink –

because I have a Heavenly Dad –

able to do more than my heart could think.

 

When life throws curve balls, and I find myself

short-sighted and in trouble,

it still really isn’t all that difficult

for Daddy to make sense of all the rubble.

 

When a situation I can’t seem to handle

within my life arises,

I just remember that Father God

disguises presents in all sizes.

 

There are situations that arise in life

that may look hopeless and sad –

these are just times for Abba to show off

that He is the Awesome Dad!

 

He is able to do exceedingly abundantly

more than my mind could ever think –

heck just look how He spoke the whole world into

existence in just one week!

 

How can I worry about

all these situations that I face

when My Daddy is the Almighty

Creator of the human race?

 

He is able to cease the wind

with only one gentle word;

to think I worried it would destroy my sail

was foolish and absurd!

 

How much is exceeding?

How far can His abundance go?

Can it reach high like His favor,

or when in need of grace kneel low?

 

Can it stretch across all life’s issues

and cover any condition?

Can it really meet all my needs,

even the ones I haven’t mentioned?

 

Yes, HIS exceeding abundance is more

than adequate to say the least,

when we are Children of The Father,

His love and mercy never cease!

Perfect Peace

16

“You will keep him in perfect peace – whose mind is set on You, because he trusts in You. “ Isaiah 26:3

 

            In a typical day, a million things cram my mind. Not a dark corner goes uncluttered by the time my feet hit the floor…my needs, Daniel, the kids, the menu for the day, friends, choices, responsibilities…God??? Unfortunately, too many times, in that order.

            But the days I choose to begin in You, Abba, those days where before my feet hit the floor- I find myself already meditating on who You are, the plans You have for my life, the changes You want and are more than able to make in me and through me…these are the days I find my peace. Not that this comes easy, or tarries without temptation or want.

            No, before I know it – the phone rings – wrong person, wrong time, wrong circumstances – maybe just a wrong word in the middle of the conversation – and before I know it, my mind is no longer fixed on who You are, but on who I am – who I really am – but hate to be when tooth hits nail sometimes. But then, I am reminded…

            You keep me in peace because I set my focus on You! I trust You as Abba Father; therefore, I know that You take care of everything that concerns me. Even the hardship that I endure for the moment is allowed as an opportunity for me to become more like Your Son. Yes, God, You are my perfect peace!

  

You will keep me, God, in the middle of the circumstances of life –

            Your peace will rest upon me, God – no matter the hardship or strife.

 

When my mind becomes anchored on Your unchanging Word –

            not an action that takes place, or a voice that can be heard –

            change the awesome plans You have for me –

            because You, O God, my heart is fixed on Thee.

 

Trials in this life come a dozen a day,

            sometimes even more – no one can really say –

            because each person’s experiences leave a different impact –

            but I know You’re still the answer,

            and this is definitely a fact!

 

When I choose to submit all my worries and my doubts –

            to the authority of Your Word – rather than live with my head up in the clouds –

I hit my knees first; plead the blood of Your Son constantly,

            than I know that Your eyes will be steadily fixed upon me.

 

Because I trust in You, My God, My Fortress, My Deliverer, My Strength –

            my mind can be at perfect peace and my body will not faint.

Because You purposed my life – beginning to the end –

            before my heartbeat started or even before my mother would say my life began –

 

Each day is fashioned in Your hands; each breath I breathe is Yours;

O my heart is fixed upon You, O God, my peace alone in you, who I adore.

 

 

 

 

 

Delivered Out of the Miry Clay – Study of Psalm 40

psalm 40

Psalm 40

Psalm that is very personal to me, as the first five verses Daniel memorized and recited the day he proposed to me

This Psalm was likely written after David defeated King Saul at Mount Gilboa (“Fountain of Boiling and Sudden Violence”)

So – I have been doing a study on Psalm 40 – when Daniel proposed to me a little over 8 years ago, he had memorized the first five verses. Honestly, at the time, I did not understand why, and for some reason, throughout the early years of our marriage, I would refer what he did with aggravation and anger. I truly didn’t get it at the time because I was still knee-deep in the miry clay. But the Holy Spirit brought me back to this Psalm last week, and I decided to look at it with a fresh heart and spirit – and boy, did it not only minister to me, but it also spoke volumes about what we have been through over the past 8 years, and the deliverance we have experienced both as individuals and as a family. I thought I would share what I have learned about the Psalm thus far in my study. I started by taking the first five verses and looking each word up in my concordance. To my surprise, each one had  great depth of meaning, and I decided to use all the meanings I found and rewrite the verses as a prayer of praise, with the multiple Hebrew meanings  interlaced….and this is what I came up with – an beautiful prayer of praise for deliverance – hopefully it will bless and encourage someone who might be facing difficult circumstances:

My Hebrew Interpretation of Psalm 40 – Prayer of Thanksgiving for Deliverance

I tarried and looked for My Yahweh, the One Who has always existed and the One Who causes me to exist. And He, My Yahweh, turned His head, bowed His ear, stretched forth His hand and extended it toward me, as He discerned my voice and carefully hearkened to my cry. (verse 1)

My Yahweh, withdrew me from the waste of my desolation and pomp; He recovered me from the tumultuous dungeon, which He used to stir me up as an offering – to perfect me and to cause me to honor Him. He increased me in that rushing fountain, out of the sediment of the swamp and mud that bogged me down and embarrassed me. My Yahweh established my steps as He helped me up. He made my path sure. He restored my walk. He ordained me to surely accomplish His will. He made good – every private part of me and made Himself my Stability and Protection, my Faithfulness, my Rock, my Fortress, and My Stronghold. He was steadfast and firm as He secured my steps, which He prepared and set in place for me – fashioning each one before I ever took it. He made provision for my journey and tarried with me along the way as He continually ordained my tracks. (verse 2)

My Yahweh dedicated me to Himself. He delivered me for His use. He suffered patiently with me and appointed a new song to my  mouth. He ascribed new music for my lips. He applied Spirit to my melody and caused me to utter a song of praise unto my Great and Powerful Judge. Everyone will take heed and enjoy the work God has done in me. They will consider His great power and realize His awesome wonder. They will be frightened by His majesty; they will be intimidated by His holiness. They will honor Him as His righteousness causes them to stumble over themselves and fall to the ground once they realize that they must rely and place their confidence on My Yahweh and My Yahweh alone. (verse 3)

The strong and mighty man that establishes Himself on Yahweh and determines to commit to His plan and purpose – every man who rehearses God’s Word and allows God’s care to preserve him – will reap of the favorable kind acts and joy of God, Who is our Hope and  Security. The man who shows no regard for the defiant ones nor who is delusioned or turns aside to false gods will find God’s joy and happiness as a result. (verse 4)

Yahweh, Your astounding wonders are numerous. They are hidden in Your Word, as It is fulfilled in my life. They are exceedingly hard for me to consider because You have used each work to squeeze and caress me into Your likeness. You have spent Yourself on me. You have maintained me with Your grace and mercy. You have occupied me with Your Son. You have appointed me to Your priesthood. With Your children, Your purposes are so cunningly designed – even if we tried, we could not put them in order for ourselves. Your scheme is so far beyond our comprehension; we cannot place a value upon them that would be worthy of a sum. The plot You are directing for Your children cannot be compared to anything we know in the tangible arenas of our lives. If we tried to plainly utter each of Thy works, we would miserably fail to publish them all – for we could not report or rehearse all that You have done.  No census could contain them; there is no way they can be counted. (verse 5)

A Five-fold Psalm

  1. of personal thanksgiving to God for delivering David from King Saul at Mt. Gilboa and a  declaration of God’s goodness to His children who wait upon Him patiently
  2. a prophecy fulfilled through Jesus, the Messiah
  3. a hope for those that choose Christ as their dwelling place in which they tarry for His promises
  4. a promise of Jesus’ triumphal return
  5. a personal prophetic word spoken over me when Daniel proposed – a promise of deliverance from our marital “Mount Gilboa” and a blessing upon our relationship as we learned to cry out to God and trust Him as a couple

This Psalm is a testimony of a God, Who is powerful enough to help the most weak of His children and Who offers enough grace and mercy to help those who are most unworthy. At any point in David’s life, he could be described either way. Yet this Psalm testifies of God’s faithful deliverance for those of His children who will never regret their choice to tarry.

  My Study of the First Two Verses

Verse 1:

This powerful prophetic verse points to the tabernacle God would provide for us through Jesus Christ. This prayer, reminiscent of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, where God inclined His ears toward Jesus’ midnight prayers, as the Messiah would soon patiently bear the crown of agony as He died upon the cross – allowing all to glean from the truths of this Psalm. Just as Jesus would soon cry out only to His Father alone for help, David understood that waiting on a mortal man would be futile and useless. David understood that God’s mercy would be found in David’s own weakness and inability to rescue himself. David’s expression of waiting in verse one is underscored with repetition, as “waited patiently” is in Hebrew “qavah, qavah” – distinctly defined as a cry for help, reflecting that David’s wait was not an easy one; yet, David’s only anxiety was the suspense he felt waiting on promised redemption through the Lord.

Interestingly enough, the word ‘inclined” is Hebrew for “natah,” which in Genesis 12:8 is the same verb  used to refer to Abraham “pitching a tent” for safety on a mountain just east of Bethel, while traveling in obedience to God toward the Promised Land of Canaan. This word “natah” is also the Greek verb used in John 1:14, where Jesus is describe as “dwelling” among us as a tabernacle or tent of safety where we can behold His glory and reap His grace and truth.  Meaning, as God inclined to David’s cry for help, God literally listened with attention and interest and pitched a tent of safety for David to dwell in as he waited for Saul’s defeat.

Personal Application – Our Father loves to answer childlike prayers from the man who looks to Him when troubles arise. Although human nature is to look to our friends and loved ones for help, God wants to be the first One we look to for deliverance. God considers it to be a beautiful thing when we humbly cry out to Him as our Papa. God wants us to be like David, who trusted that every tear, which graced his face, would be secured and unwasted, and journaled in a bottle, where God would never forget a one that fell (Psalm 56:8) In times where it seems God is silent, He wants us to tarry and wait intently, with expectancy upon Him, the God who knows no boundaries – no deadlines – but is always right on time. He wants us humble and hopeful, waiting in constancy, guarding ourselves from unbelief, while He secretly begins His execution of our safety and deliverance. God wants us hungry and thirsty for His help and His alone. Just like David, who panted for the Lord like a deer panteth for the water (Psalms 42:1-2). God has provided us shelter throughout our wait, Jesus Christ, our living tabernacle, our tent of refuge and strength.  As surely as God delivered David from Saul, with as much certainty as He inclined His ear to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and delivered Him from the grave, God will answer those who patiently wait for Him.

Other promises for those who wait – (Genesis 49:18, Psalm 25:3, Psalm 25:5, Psalm 27:14, Psalm 34:15, Psalm 37:7, Psalm 116:2, Psalm 130:5)

 

Verse 2:

Here, we find a fitting allusion to the deep swampy waters where our lives are almost overcome by tumultuous desolation – situations that do not easily let go of us – similar to that of a sticky clay which bogs the body down. David presents his situation as one that has overwhelmed him – one where his calamities have overcome him in such a way that it seemed almost impossible for him to be delivered – certainly he had been humbled enough to recognize there was nothing he could do in himself. David realized he was in a horrible hole, where oftentimes this is symbolized in Scripture as the pit of death – a terrible situation that is threatening David’s life. Yet, in the middle of this situation, David suddenly realizes that God has literally “brought him up” (‘alah’). Notice that God did all the action in this verse, as He reached down from Heaven and set David on a rock, where David would soon recognize with what great grace he had been delivered. David’s fears were quieted; his spirit was stilled; his  mind was overcome by great peace. In an instant, the entire atmosphere changed – the location transitioned from muddy waters to a firm rock where his feet would be purposed to walk an established and straightened path that had already been planned and perfected for him – one that would greatly impact the nation of Israel and directly lead to the entrance of the Savior of all mankind.

Here, a prophetic foretelling of how Jesus Christ would one day bare the terrible curse of death, when our sins were strapped to His innocent back, as He willingly sacrificed His life on the cross. Here, we find a picture of the tumultuous wave of death that took Jesus into a desolate pit on our behalf. For the mercy of His children, Jesus graciously would experience great suffering, but with sudden triumph, the King of Kings would be rescued by His Father, from the pit, and He would be established as our constant firm Foundation. He would experience the ugliest and darkest pit of sorrow and death; yet, He would conquer this miry grave and soon be elevated as Lord of Lords – the Everlasting Rock.

Personal Application – With great certainty, God has already guaranteed every Believer deliverance form the miry pit of sin and death. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the gift of this resurrected Savior, our Rock has been eternally established. Because Jesus has already finished the work, the child of God can be encouraged that Jesus is now our firm Foundation. No matter how deep the pit we find ourselves enslaved within, Jesus is more than able to save us to the uttermost. His mercy completes us and sets us upon a Rock, where our feet can stand firm, and our fears are quelled by the hopes of Heaven.

What horrible pit do you find yourself in? Addiction? Adultery? Fornication? Perversion? Abuse? Bitterness? Disease? Christ is your certain Deliverance; He is the Rock upon Who you should stand. He is more than able to mercifully rescue you, to lift you up, and to establish your path. Do not be tempted to foolishly believe you might be able to rescue yourself from the dungeon. Only in your humble cry to the risen Savior will you find your way of escape. Wait intently on God alone. Actively cry out for His rescue and deliverance. Patiently recall to your remembrance the affliction of Jesus and the encouragement of His resurrection and promise. Get into God’s Word and tarry in obedience, trusting Him to deliver you while you seek Him and while you rejoice in Him.

Promises during the wait – (Psalm 7:9, Psalm 18:16-29, Psalm 26:12, Psalm 27:5, Psalm 37:23, Psalm 69:2-14, Psalm 71:20, Psalm 86:23, Psalm 119:5, Matthew 7:24-25, Acts 2:24-31)

 

 

 

 

 

Marriage – Threshed and Winnowed as the Wheat

wheat-field

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. John 12:24

 

Some compare marriage to a garden with flowers abounding. But compare it to wheat – the similarities – astounding!

Instead of the spring time when most flowers arrive, the wheat is planted during fall and through winter will thrive.

 

When everything is bare, and all you can see is but death – just like the wheat – the secret of marriage is kept.

The times where one completely chooses dying to self -choosing brokeness and humility when hard times are dealt.

 

Just like the wheat, marriage acquries it’s strength, through endurance and patience when the plant becomes faint.

It takes weeding and pruning – sometimes even starting anew. It gets food from the dirt and is quenched by the dew.

Like marriage where two grow better as one – more from the heartache and storms than the fun.

It thrives more when times produce a great thirst – that lead to prayer and seeking God first.

And just like the wheat  – which thrives in the dampest of weather;  good marriages grow during the storms where it’s tethered.

 

And where a wheat bushel produces over one million seeds – the act of a marriage meets generations of needs

where kids learn that love takes effort and work – and how to pull the wheat up from the ground and the dirt.

Where we learn, like the wheat – when ready the seeds must dry out – good marriages spring up in great times of drought.

 

And still once harvested – the wheat is threshed on the floor – good marriages grow when they’re beaten all the more.

The times, where like wheat  is winnowed to remove all the dust – God uses our marriages to complete and sanctify us.

 

A Godly marriage doesn’t grow over night – just like the wheat it takes many seasons to reach full stature and height.

It’s well worth the effort – and produces much yield – for more than one family can eat from its field.

 

I thank God for your marriage and the witness it bears – when we hold fast to God’s promise as He removes all the tares.

Your marriage is proof of the amazing work  God can do, when we learn to be crucified and allow God to make one out of two.

Are We Promoting Purity For Our Children in a Hyper-sexually Driven Culture?

physical-eternal

Ok – so I am about to ask all my parents out there a very thought-provoking question that might stir up a heated debate…actually a few questions. These are not meant to step on anyone’s toes in particular – just our society as a whole, especially those of us who are Christian parents:
When did we start letting the world and this culture determine what we teach our girls about dating, romance, and marriage? At what point did we lose our focus on teaching our kids what Christ-like relationships with the opposite sex should look?
Whatever happened to teaching our kids courtship versus dating (i.e. baggage collection)?
Can you show me where in God’s Word does it give us permission to pawn our kids off on a continual basis to one boyfriend/girlfriend after another?
Do you know how hard it is to teach my girls the proper and Biblical basis for courtship in a culture that is going in a totally opposite direction and on a very fast rate?
Do we as parents not understand that many of the troubles we face in our own marriages are a direct result of all the baggage we collected during our dating years?
How can we expect our children to enjoy lives of purity, while teaching them that dating is ok, in the middle of a culture that shoves their sexuality down their throats?
When did we give up our God-given command to teach children in the way they should go?
If in the Bible, parents were given the responsibility of picking mates for their children – why do we think it should work any differently now?
Do we not understand that in societies where marriages are arranged – the percentages of marriages that are successful are greater than our culture and society where 1 out of 2 marriages end in a divorce?
Did we give up on teaching our kids to chase after God with all their hearts instead of a romantic relationship because it made our lives easier?
Is it because we’re too lazy to make the effort?
Have we convinced ourselves that it really doesn’t matter to God?
Courtship is defined as “a period during which a couple develop a romantic relationship, especially with a view to marriage.”
The western tradition of dating is very different from the values and traditions taught in the eastern world, where courtship reflects a more Biblical approach to God’s view on the subject. Dating is really non-existent in most eastern cultures, where children of the opposite sex are guarded closely and only allowed minimal contact with one another – much less any type of romantic behavior. Our western culture is teaching our kids that giving away your first kiss at 5 is ok….look at every sitcom and Disney movie and tell me this isn’t true?
The Bible says that love should not be aroused or awaken until its proper time (Song of Solomon 3:5). Regardless of what culture we would rather ascribe to – has God not commanded us to teach our children to honor marriage and to keep the wedding bed pure? If not, then please explain to me how our modern western tradition of dating exemplifies that?
Purity-Rings
I understand that we are not an eastern culture, and I am by no means saying we should directly mimic other cultures. But, I am saying that we should consider that our concepts of dating and going steady are worldly values; we are supposed to teach our children NOT to conform to the world. We should be teaching them how to have Godly relationships that foster purity and prepare them for a healthy marriage. Our views of dating need to be re-evaluated – and transformed by the principles taught in the Word of God. God’s plan for one man and one woman to enjoy a lifelong marriage to ONE another has never changed. And I can pour out examples from my own life and many many others to give example after example of how forsaking the Biblical views of courtship have destroyed marriages.
Now I know you might feel like you have taught your kids the differences between dating and courtship. Perhaps you feel like you have a good grip on this area in your homes – if so, then perhaps this wasn’t written for you. But I dare say that a majority of parents are NOT teaching the Biblical principles of courtship – I know this because I have spent over 10 years inside of the classroom – I see what our children are doing. I pay attention to their relationships. I listen to what they have to say as it relates to parental expectations in relationships. I can’t tell you how many girls I have met that claim to have strict parents, yet ended up having premarital sex when the parents were not paying enough attention – I have heard story after story about the girl that ended up pregnant because the parents turned their backs for just ten minutes.
Is it not our responsibility to guard our children’s purity just as closely as we guard their lives and safety?
Dating has caused so much destruction and chaos in the lives of children who should be focusing on who they are in Christ and what purpose He has for their lives. Dating has resulted in unwanted pregnancies, countless abortions, young kids being forced to engage in sexual relationships because they are unable to say no…friendships broken and lost because children have no regard for their friends’ feelings as they play merry-go-round with one another’s ex.
Face it – the popular culture has shaped our worldview, and many parents have adopted its traditions while they fool themselves into believing that strict rules and double dates are keeping their kids safe. We have failed to recognize that we live in a culture where double dating is widely viewed as an opportunity to have a “groupie,” where our kids know more about their sexuality than we do, where pornography is flowing freely through every technological channel, and our children idolize Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Beyonce – all the good girls gone bad that started off in Christian homes too!
Roughly-forty-six-percent-of-high-school
What values can you find in dating from the characteristics below? What can these truly offer your children in the way of purity and abstinence?
– Two people are physically attracted to one another. They declare their crushes and label each other as “my boyfriend/my girlfriend” and become entwined in a “special relationship” where they get to hold hands and spend every free moment with one another or thinking about the other.
– Two people given no real boundaries, especially when they find any alone moments – away from their parents – like the locker room at school – the dark closet behind the stairs – under the bleachers – possibly even in the classroom while the teacher has stepped out and other students keep guard (yep, all of these are true stories folks) – and soon hand holding becomes an innocent kiss…then a French kiss…then fondling….all the natural patterns that happen once the first cord has been broken.
– The immature relationship suddenly ends because one of the two – or both – now have new crushes and new opportunities in front of them. One ends up devastated that the relationship has ended, and soul ties take the place of the person that left them because of the intimacy they shared.
Tell me what value can you find in any of those for your children?
Our children are barely old enough to handle driving a car and a cell phone – how can we expect them to be responsible in dating? How can we resolve that they will have to “live and learn; there’s only so much we can do?”
We need to teach our children the values of friendship and getting to know someone and that someone’s family. We need to teach our children that God has a plan for their lives – one man + one woman = for one lifetime. Our children don’t need to “sample” all the world has to offer in order to find a good mate. That is the world’s pattern – one which only adds additional baggage to their adult lives.
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I am thankful to have two daughters who are almost 15 and 16 who have never given away their first hand-hold, much less their first kiss. Now, I will admit that one would change that if she could, but they would both agree that they are thankful we have taught them about courtship and how it is different than dating. I am certain they have much appreciation for the fact that they have successfully made it through the beginning years of high school without having their hearts broken time and again.
We are still the authorities in our homes, and yes – our kids might choose to rebel – but that doesn’t mean we should back off or give them a license to. The age old argument that they will only get wilder and more rebellious once they leave home is a poor excuse for permitting our kids to handle something as dangerous as a gun. It is not just our only responsibility to teach our kids the right way; it is our responsibility to create a loving atmosphere where they are restricted from doing otherwise.
I admonish you to consider what has been written. I urge you to get back to teaching your kids the Godly principles for marriage, and I dare you to teach your kids that being different is a good thing in a world that is teaching our kids that sin is ok – a world that will lead your children straight to destruction and hell if we don’t do otherwise.
Paul Washer is an excellent teacher and has plenty of resources on YouTube about Biblical courtship.
I would love to partner with other parents who share the same views and encourage each other as we promote Biblical relationships in the lives of our children.
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No Longer an Orphan – Allowing God’s Grace to Sanctify and Transform ME

I can never transform the culture around me as long as I am comfortable being just like it. I can’t follow the ways of the world and get to where God wants to take me.

Every word that I write is written with personal conviction because of my own failures, temptations, and battles.

First, I think it is important for you to understand my personal testimony – I grew up in the church, and I knew about God from the age of at least 5 years old. I answered my first altar call at a very early age, and I continued to answer altar calls until I was almost 40 years old. Throughout a majority of my life, I lived in fear and condemnation because I knew of God, but I didn’t KNOW God. I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, but I had never submitted myself to His Word. I religiously attended church; I worshipped like a good Pentecostal; I even went through the ritual times of Bible study and prayer…but I failed to put the Word of God into practice, and I lived most of my life confessing Jesus as Lord – but I wasn’t allowing Him to be My Lord.

By the time I was sixteen years old, I began to walk in rebellion. I no longer feared the punishment of my parents, and my belief in Jesus Christ waned as I wondered off onto a path of sin, bondage, and spiritual death that almost cost me my physical life. By the time I was 20 years old, I found myself divorced and headed into a lifestyle of perversion, addiction, witchcraft, and self destruction.

As I grew older, I became wiser in the ways of the world. I was miserable; I contemplated suicide on a daily basis. My religious rituals began to wane, and I became engulfed in a world of darkness and torment. I would attend church in spells throughout these rebellious years, and over and over again, I would find myself saying the same prayers at the altar. I would find myself emotionally charged by sermons and personally convicted by my lifestyle. But as soon as I would leave the walls of the churches I attended, I found myself right back in the cycles of sin.

It didn’t take but a few years before I found myself lost in a wilderness. I knew I was in the wilderness; I knew I had gotten way off track; I even attempted to get myself back on the right track. I failed every time.

By the time I was 30 years old, I was spiritually dead on the inside. It didn’t happen all at once but slowly – one bad choice at a time, one bad relationship after another – soon, I found myself in bondage to cocaine, crack, marijuana, alcohol, fornication….all the things I spent my life judging other people for – now became the very things that were killing me. I often found myself praying that God would take my life because I had no idea how I would ever break free. My suicidal contemplations became more severe, and much of my lifestyle was a reflection of how passionately I desired to die. During these years, I found myself in and out of hospitals, homeless, jobless – I was diagnosed with everything from manic depression, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, depression – and everything about me echoed each diagnosis. But the doctors couldn’t help me.

I desperately wanted to change, but I didn’t know how. There was a disconnection between my knowledge of Jesus Christ and my ability to allow Him to transform my life. I was at the end of myself, and no professional could give me the help I needed.

God was not silent in my life during this time. There was hardly a day that went by that I didn’t, in some small way, hear Him calling me – He used many people to encourage me throughout these years, but it would be a great struggle to find my way back from the wilderness – back on the path God originally intended for my life.

The past eight years, I have been in the process of deliverance. It never happened all at once, as it often does for some people. Sure, there was an almost immediate deliverance from the lifestyle of hardcore drugs and fornication – but I can tell you that a majority of my lifestyle took way more effort to walk away from then it did to become in bondage to.

A couple of years ago, God began to do some serious work in my heart. I was free from most of my issues, but there were still areas of my life that I was struggling with. I wanted to change, but I lacked the power to do it myself. This is when God began to teach me about what it meant to abide in His presence. This is the point in my life where He taught me that religion would  not be enough — that what I needed was a personal relationship with Him — that I needed to commit to a lifestyle of obedience to His Word, self control — I need to submit to the process of sanctification.

This has not been an easy process. It has taken a great deal of dying to myself. It has taken laying down a person that I was much acquainted to and very comfortable being –

I think it is important for people to understand just how close I came to dying…because this is why I can’t afford to take any sin in my life less than serious. As someone who struggled with drug addiction, lying, perversion, and all sorts of other evil for over 20 years of my life – I can’t afford not to take my salvation seriously. I have wasted enough time sitting on the fence and being lukewarm and religious. God didn’t give His Son, Jesus Christ, to just rescue me from hell! God raised His Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead, so He could live in and through me, and be glorified by His transformation of my life and manifestation in my life! I am living breathing proof that God is a God of restoration and deliverance. The lifestyle I live today is only because of the mercy, grace, and favor of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, I live free – today, I do not walk in the shadow of any medical diagnosis; I have no secret lifestyle that I am trying to hide; I know who I am in Christ, and I seriously want to damage the work satan wants to accomplish in the lives of people. I realize that God rescued me for one reason alone – to be a living and breathing testimony of what God can do in a person once she has totally submitted her life for HIS.

I cannot afford to sit stagnant. If I don’t grow in Christ, I will die. I need more than religious rituals. I need more than church. I need to be actively engaged as part of the body of Christ. I am looking to grow in Christ; I am looking for something different than what I have always known, and I am headed to a place I have never been! When you have been where I have been and almost died in the pig pen, maybe you will then understand why I take things so seriously.

We are each called to speak the same Message to different people. The people God has called me to encourage probably don’t come from the same walk of life as you. They need more than religion. They need a lifeboat! This is my cry – this is my testimony – this is the reason for my urgency – this is the reason I write. And there are many many people out there who are sitting right where I have been, and they need you to be all that God intends for you to be.

During the past six months, I have found myself hungrier and thirstier. I have had a deep-rooted desire for more of God. He has begun to show me that in order for Him to completely fill me, I have to allow Him to completely empty me. He cannot pour new wine into an old wineskin.

I know we have heard this over and over again throughout our church walls – but have we really allowed the Holy Spirit to make it relevant to our daily walks with Christ?

Warning – this is not going to be a message that tickles your ears – nor is it for the faint of heart. This message is for those who are looking for meat to chew on – those who are uncomfortable with where they are and desire more of the power of God to manifest in their lives. Please understand that I write what God teaches me during my personal journey with Him in hopes that it will make others thirsty and hungry too.

Let me give you an example of what I mean – something I just personally experienced:

I was convicted by how I spent my free time because I was a 40 year old woman who had been in church for most of her life but had never read the entire Bible from front to back, had no real understanding of Scripture, could barely find the different books of the Bible, much less tell you any great detail or revelation about the great patriarchs of the Bible and their relevance to my life today. My children could recite all of the lyrics to most every major pop song and discuss at length the story behind all of the favorite television shows and movies, but had very little knowledge of the relevancy of God’s Word, how to apply It, or what resources It actually provided them in their Christian walk, much less how to activate It in their lives.

Just recently, I disgusted myself. My husband and I rarely go to the movies; it seems like there are very few gems to find in the middle of the junk yard. A few months ago, the kids were all gone, and we decided to go see Part 2 of The Mocking Jay. I should have known better than to entertain the idea, but being that we had already seen the other parts- our curiosity had gotten the best of us.

The headache and stomach ache came as the previews began rolling….up popped a preview for an upcoming movie called Sisters – my mouth dropped open. It’s not as if I have never seen such filth before because there was a time in my life where that was much of my input. But this night, it just didn’t sit well. As I watched the homosexual innuendos, women parading themselves as street trash, and a celebration of debauchery and fornication preview before me- my ears stung with the giggles of the crowd, my heart pained with the realization that there were many children crowded in the theatre, and my Spirit became extremely convicted that this wasn’t where I would want Jesus to find me if He were to return! Why would I want to sit there – knowing that what I was trying to feed my flesh was sin in my Father’s eyes and quench the Holy Spirit?

I realized what I was watching was blatantly opposite of everything the Word of God says is Truth. There was this sudden moment of revelation that this was the place God wanted me to allow the Word of God to actually cause me to walk differently than I once had in my previous lifestyle. I heard the still small voice of God inside of me echoing – “Joyelle, is this true? Is this honest? Is this just? Is this pure? Is this lovely? Is this a good report? Is this virtuous? Is this praiseworthy?”

I found myself convicted. I realized that what I was allowing in my ears was not at all the things God wanted me to be thinking about. I realized that at some point I had to quit talking about the Word – and at some point – I had to actually do what It says. It became clear to me, that this was an example of where God wanted me to cast down every high thing that exalted itself against my knowledge of Who Jesus Christ is. I recognized that this was the place I needed to stand – I heard God speak clearly to me, “Joyelle, guard you heart diligently – for out of your heart – are your issues. You can’t engage in something contrary to My Word and expect not to become tainted by it.”

Daniel and I decided that the precious moments we had been sharing pursuing our Father’s heart was too valuable to overlook what He calls sin. We did something we have never done before- we got up and walked out within 5 minutes of the movie. Praise God, the manager even gave us a refund without any question. Sorry folks, I am going forward; I have a race to run- this world will never get the point until they see the body of Christ take a stand. And this is where I stand! No more lukewarm- ever!

I know you are thinking that maybe these are just my “personal convictions” – that perhaps don’t really apply to your life.

Really?

Think about it like this – what did Jesus use to teach His disciples? Parables, right?

What do you think Hollywood does?

It teaches satan’s disciples with parables and stories.

It takes the sin that should disgust us and make us uncomfortable – and twists it into something comical and entertaining. It desensitizes the very things that our Savior gave His life for. Even more simply put – it dumps trash into our hearts quicker than we are able to shovel it out.

Don’t believe me?

Perhaps you find yourself saying the same thing I was saying – “I really don’t watch anything bad. I filter all the bad stuff. I only watch this show that is really not that bad. I only watch this game. I only allow my kids to watch Disney. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Really?

Stay with me a minute – I am going to share with you the same thing God radically spoke to my heart in the past year. Your flesh isn’t going to like it – mine certainly didn’t. But if you want to grow – if you want to close the doors in your home that the enemy is creeping through – you have to be willing to see evil for what it is.

Let’s just examine one area of our lifestyles – television….

How many times have we sat and watched a commercial and said to ourselves – “Man – why does it seem like every commercial has to blatantly scream sex?”

How many times have we allowed our favorite sitcoms to play, while our viewing choices were repeatedly interrupted by previews of horror movies depicting blatant satanic rituals, violence, brutality, and perversion?

Maybe it went in your one ear and right out the other.

Can you say the same for your children? Can you honestly say that you sit by them and teach them how to filter everything they watch on the screens?

Am I being too serious for you?

Does it step on your toes?

It should!!!

I mean, how serious do you think God takes it? Does He really want us to guard our hearts? Does He really expect us to teach our children how to cast down every imagination and take captive every thought?

Does He really expect us to do whatever it takes to protect our children? Sure – television is just one area – but it isn’t a small area – it is what most of our kids spend a majority of their afternoons doing….and if it isn’t, I bet it’s the Internet and social media – which is an entirely different ballgame with a much more serious nature.

Do we care more about our pleasure than we do about allowing temptation to creep into the lives of our children by dangling sin right before their eyes and not calling it what it is – and getting rid of it like we should?

If we won’t, why should we expect our children to?

What do you think has been teaching your little girl that her identity is found in a man? What do you think has sexually perverted the hearts and minds of this generation? What do you think has torn down the roots of the family – taught our children to disrespect and blatantly make fun of their parents?

Have you ever really sat and thought about the repeated messages pumping through our homes on a daily basis – do you ever stop and think about the premises of the movies and sitcoms themselves?

Let’s look at it like this.

Is lying a sin? Is gossip a sin? Is fornication a sin? Is witchcraft a sin? Is magic a sin?

Sure – we can agree on that –

Are we to dwell on these sins? Are we to actively think about them? Are we to entertain ourselves with the thought of them?

Of course not – then why would we sit around and watch television shows and movies that glorify the same things???

I dare you to consider your viewing habits. I dare you to allow the Holy Spirit to actually filter what you take in and out of your mind on a daily basis. I dare you to do just an inkling of research about the messages intertwined into the very shows considered “family material” these days. If you think your sitcoms are clean, I dare you to watch the commercials that interrupt them….I dare you to pay attention because your children are!

Allow the Holy Spirit to help you consider your favorite sitcom, your most innocent Disney movie, and most any game you play – and I bet He will show you how it is contrary to the Word of God….

Sure – you  might find yourself saying that I am being really legalistic and judgmental, but I am not asking you to examine anything that I am not considering in my own life on a daily basis. You see, I really want more of God’s power in my life – how can I expect Him to dwell in a temple that is stuffed of things contrary to His nature?

The truth is – we can read our Bibles and pray all day – but if we don’t practice obedience to what we read and hear then what good is it doing? Are we aimlessly tossing our prayers to the heavens or are we diligently walking in the revelation God has already given us and praying for Him to further His work in our lives?

We have already agreed that we want to see God’s power radically change our lives and the lives of those we love….but how much are we willing to sacrifice for this to happen?

We point our fingers at all the people who need to change. We condemn those who don’t know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We talk all day about all the people who are headed to hell, with our televisions and radios blaring in the background…everything opposite of God’s nature.

We are so focused on the world going to hell, that we don’t recognize our own spiritual condition. God said that in the end times many “CHRISTIANS” would be deceived….many would believe they are “ok.” Many would confess Christ as Lord and Savior, and many would be told “He knew them not.”

I don’t know about you, but that definitely characterized my life for many years. I knew of God’s Word – but I didn’t walk in It. In the parable of the ten virgins, I would have been one of the five who were unprepared with no oil in their lamps. I didn’t stand.

It would do us all some good to seriously open our Bibles and seek God’s heart. Stop putting the world down and expecting something of it that we haven’t expected of ourselves. I wonder how many of us entertained ourselves with the same thing we call filth and sin now that America has turned in its direction. How many of us sat around laughing at Ellen DeGeneres, Will and Grace, and Three’s Company, while the world was making these decisions and our backs were turned?

How many of us were soaking in Desperate Housewives, Little Liars, and Fifty Shades of Grey, while we judged the pregnant teenager and divorced woman sitting next to us in our churches? How many of us declare how violent people are getting and how awful people treat one another – while we spend all day playing Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Mine craft? How many of us taught about the idols of Moses’ day like it was something of the past, while we worshipped America’s Idols, Dancing With the Stars, the NFL players, the Hollywood Stars, the country music singers…the Emmy’s, the Oscars….Where were we all this time????

Do we not realize that how we spend our free time – what we watch, what we listen to, how we treat others, what we talk about – all of this is a form of worship? We either worship God with ALL of who we are, or we find ourselves sinning in idolatry and pagan worship. It is that plain and simple. Our bodies are the temple of Jesus Christ. We either fan the flame of the Holy Spirit, or we quench Him.

I read a quote several weeks ago from a pastor named Leonard Ravenhill that stirred me to think about what I have felt like many times on my Christian journey – “Many pastors criticize me for taking the Gospel so seriously. But do they really think that on Judgment Day, Christ will chastise me, saying, ‘Leonard, you took Me too seriously’?”

I have said something similar to my husband many times over the past several years….so many people act like it is a sin to constantly want to discuss God’s Word – to constantly allow the Bible to filter everything we do. I often hear the excuses – “God wants us to be ‘happy,’ ” “God doesn’t care about our entertainment.” “We aren’t expected to think and talk about Him all day long.” “God doesn’t care how we spend our free time.” But then when they don’t see the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they blame God – they question His ability – they wonder where He is!

They see the condition of the present generation – and they scratch their heads wondering how it got this bad. I am only 40 years old, but I can tell you that I have seen enough change in this world in my time here to explain how got to where we are. Truth be told, we are so busy with our own agendas and our skewed priorities that we aren’t raising our children. Hollywood, the radio, the PlayStations, and social media are raising our children. We have so many open doors in our homes and in our children’s lives, and we aren’t doing a good job of being filters to their ears, eyes, and hearts.

Don’t believe me? Next time you go out to eat – look around and see how many people are unengaged with their families…and how many faces are lit up with the screens from their cellphones or get together with a bunch of friends and watch how much time people waste on their phones instead of investing in the lives of the people God has placed in front of them. Better yet – open your eyes next time you are sitting in your churches and see what a majority of people are engaging in?

You say it’s really not any of my business. Yes, Saints, it is…it isn’t my business to judge, but it is my business to pray. And if you are part of the Body, then your actions impact me because I am part of the Body too!

Do I sound like there is too much urgency in my speech? Because there is –  I feel an urgency – I feel a warning down deep inside for those that call themselves the Bride but have failed to dress themselves in the Garment. I am broken inside because I realize that the Bride of Jesus Christ isn’t prepared to meet Her Groom.

Interesting thought – how many brides have you seen not excited about their weddings? How many brides have you seen not concerned with a blemish or spot on their dresses? How many brides have you seen flirting with other men as they walk up the aisles? How many brides have you seen that don’t bathe before they put on their dresses to meet their grooms?

Yet, this is often the condition we find The Bride of Christ as a whole.

I don’t know about you, but I have a wedding to prepare for – anybody want to join me as I prepare?

Body of Christ, we didn’t get to where we are as a people over night. It was one decision at a time. One area of our lives at a time, where we didn’t stand – where we didn’t think on Godly things – where we didn’t crucify our flesh – 24/7. And we can sit around all day long and spout off that all the homosexuals are going to hell…and that our nation is going to hell…and that the fornicators and drug addicts are going to hell…while the devil sits back and laughs and rejoices because we are deceived as the end times church – the children of God are no different from the Laodicean church of which Jesus described in the book of Revelation.

We can’t talk about sin and idolatry just on Sunday mornings…while spending more time the other six days of the week on sports, social media, video games, worldly music, and carnal television! The enemy hopes we’re too busy to care. He hopes you blow this message off. He hopes you go back to sleep. In fact, the Bible declares that many would.

Hollywood is nothing more than evil clothed in angelic attire. If you are serious about your relationship with God and you care about your children- then it is time to open your eyes and see the world for what it is. I am tired of hearing all the religious people sit in KFC on Sunday afternoon criticizing the gays, the tattoos, the piercings – judging the world while they themselves wallow in a pig sty…and if you feel like I am judging you when I say that – don’t – because it wasn’t too long ago that I was doing the same thing!

How can we expect the world to be convicted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ – when we as Believers are entertaining ourselves with filth? Do we not understand that God’s judgment starts with His people? Saints- we are to fear the Lord- this is the beginning of wisdom! Do not let religious peddlers convince you that God doesn’t care about what we do with our free time; God is a consuming fire, a jealous Bridegroom, and His Gospel is The Message that does not lie or change! His love is beyond our comprehension and always begins with a call to repentance. His love does not condone our sin but commands us to be conformed to His Word!

I am not sitting in the middle of the sty anymore- when I find myself in the middle of what looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and acts like a duck- if My Abba Father says the duck is a sin- then I am getting myself out of there! I am done playing with this world! To go where I am going – I might have to blaze a trail and go by myself for now- but I am not letting the enemy put a bushel over my light!

It is time for all of God’s people to stand! (I Cor. 16:13) Problem is – many of us don’t truly understand what “stand” means. God has called and equipped His children for spiritual warfare. No doubt, the enemy knows this and is trying to prepare his own “army.” While satan seeks to steal, kill, and destroy the child of God – he doesn’t have to try very hard when the child of God is unequipped. In Ephesians 6 – Paul lays out the clothing that the children of God are supposed to put on every day – 24/7.

These pieces are vital to not only our sanctification process, but also to our ability to stand in the day and time we live in, as effective parts of the body of Christ. The problem is that many of us are still dressed in our worldly clothes. We are not thinking like Christ (Phil. 4:8); we are not acting Christ-like (Rom. 12:2); we are not allowing ourselves to be crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). So, basically, we are walking around in this world spewing out religious ideas, harming people with our words, while our own minds and flesh are rotting.

It is time for God’s remnant to stand and BE THE CHURCH! Let Jesus live victoriously in our lives, so we can be the light in this world! Let Jesus be Lord of our OWN lives…everything we do. Look around our own homes and our own kids’ cell phones and computers…start cleaning up the trash in our OWN lives…and get before God and repent for our OWN sins.

When we let God be intimate in all our affairs – our wardrobe, our music, our entertainment, our checkbook, our snap chat – when we can see His reflection in all those things – then maybe we will find opportunities to activate our faith and BE The Church God has called us to be. It is time to learn what idolatry means in 2016. It is time to seek God’s heart and recognize how broken He is about the deception that has fallen upon the people that call themselves His children. It is time to get involved in our own children’s lives enough that we don’t allow the enemy to creep into our OWN homes.

Put down your phones! Turn off your televisions! Get to know the Word of God….and call out to God. Stand. Pick up the weapons of your warfare that are not carnal but mighty though God to the pulling down of strongholds (II Cor. 10:4) and fight the good fight, recognizing that we are not fighting flesh and blood, but a coy and wise serpent, using principalities and the evil authorities of this world (Eph. 6:10-18).

If we don’t do this now, I have an urgency in my spirit to say that we are headed for judgment – and God always begins with The Church! “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (I Pet. 4:17)” It’s time for the world to see The Church stop being so fake, and start being transparent about their own hearts. It’s time for repentance to start in the House of God.

I don’t know about you, but I want ALL He has to offer! I want His COMPLETE work in me! I want Him to find me faithful and alert! Why does that desire instead cause people to accuse me of being self-righteous? Why instead don’t we want to sharpen one another as brothers and sisters in Christ and stir one another to good works?

If the way I run my race happens to stir you to consider what you really believe – then good – that is what we are supposed to do to one another! If the way I look at evil and refuse to play with the enemy stirs you to want to take your race seriously – good – that is what the Body of Christ is commanded to do! If my convictions cause you to feel convicted – good – that is what salt and light are supposed to do! I am not looking to ‘feel’ good – that’s what drugs, alcohol, medication, television, sports, and all that other stuff is for. I spent most of my life filling my appetite with those things, and they left me EMPTY and BARREN!

I think I have often times fooled myself into believing that God really wasn’t concerned about the small details of my life – the seemingly unimportant plans I made; the personal choices I made about the relationships I engaged in or the entertainment I chose to enjoy; the outfits I picked out; the ungodly thoughts I let linger in my mind…Yet, at the same time, I also found myself questioning why I never saw God manifest Himself in my life in such a way that I actually became useful to His Kingdom.

God wants to awaken His people. Isaiah 52:1-2 says, “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” And Ephesians 4:14-17 says, “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”

Read that again – WE MUST SHAKE OURSELVES! WE MUST AWAKEN OURSELVES! Turn off your televisions; silence the world; let’s be about the Lord’s work – there is a dying world all around us, and it is time for the Body of Christ to be The Church! Jesus wouldn’t be sitting around in 2016 chillin’ with His feet up! Satan is serious about the work he is doing in this world. It is time for Christians to pick up their weapons and get serious about their relationships with God.

It is time to let God personally wreck all of our habits and lifestyles – to break us open and pour out all of the old, so He can recreate us and fill us with the new!

If you are looking for a good place to start when it comes to making the armor of God relevant in your life – here is an excellent teaching –

The Armor of God

I understand the human desire to look the other way and pretend none of this is going on around us, but this world that our children is growing up in the middle of is much more evil than the one I knew as a child. As badly as you might want to ignore the influence of the culture, you simply cannot afford to from a spiritual standpoint. The enemy banks on your ignorance.

For those of you that might need a little convincing that our culture is influencing the minds of our children – I have attached a few videos below as evidence. You can find much more…

How Television Impacts A Child’s Brain – According to Scientists

Hear A Neuroscientist and Doctor Explain How Digital Technology Impacts A Developing Brain

A Pastor Illustrates Exactly What Disney Has Been Up To

Katy Perry Teaching Our Kids During the Superbowl Half-Time Show

Satanic Programming in Cartoons

The Truth about Television Programming

End Time Warning – The Influence of the Music and Television

Satanic Programming on Cartoon Network

Disney Programming

Disney, Satanism, and Sex

Bruno Mars, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Super Bowl and Satan

Secrets Behind The Superbowl Halftime Rituals

The Grammy Rituals

More Grammy Rituals

MTV Occult Rituals

Madonna and Her Rituals

2016 Superbowl Halftime Peek – Coldplay Rituals

Lady Gaga and The 2016 Grammy’s

A Deeper Look Into Lady Gaga’s Intel Promo

This one isn’t for the faint of heart, and I am not endorsing the person who made this video, as it seems to have been published by a Muslim, but nevertheless – this is an extremely good video that addresses the how our culture has hypersexualized our children. Be forewarned – there are some graphic images – but I encourage you to watch the video in its entirety. Extreme Hypersexualization of Our Children

All the Proof We Need from the Bible that God Takes This Stuff Very Seriously : I challenge you to find a Scripture below that tells us to do otherwise! 

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. II Corinthians 10:3-6

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Philippians 4:4-9

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; Hebrews 3:12-14

Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; I Peter 2:1-11

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. Mark 12:30

And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways. And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee. And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Deuteronomy 28:1-15

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:7-9

We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. II Corinthians 6

Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. I Timothy 6

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24

And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. I Corinthians 9:23-27

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:1-10

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. I John 3

Who Can I Trust

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“Trust in the Lord with all thy heart; lean not into thine own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

This is one of those trademark VERSES – you know what I’m talking about – those verses that we normally come across and rush past because we have seen it used on every church sign, bulletin, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, kitchen magnets, etc. You can even find those who don’t walk with the Lord, but are still versed in this SCRIPTURE. IT is easy to say; a lot harder to put into practice. When used for preventive meditations – simple. Let my daughter be in the middle of an asthma attack at 2 am on a Saturday morning, despite the fact that we have anointed her with oil and prayed – well, that SCRIPTURE becomes a mystery within ITSELF.

You see, it’s really easy to overlook the small words hidden throughout this VERSE – the ones that actually hide the depth of the intimate message being disclosed…words like “in,” “all,” “own,” “He,” “direct….” These are the ones, I can easily prove, are simply overlooked in the Believer’s response to the SCRIPTURE. Too often, we mess up at the very beginning when we began to put our trust in something else. We look at things through our own understanding. We make a ton of little decisions all day long while we already in this off-course condition. Then, we acknowledge HIM in anger and resentment because we feel abandoned in the forest of life. Consequently, we walk around for years denying, ignoring, and secretly hating our VERY CREATOR!

I’ve done it a million times. But at this point in my life, I am beginning to understand that GOD’S WORD IS not only ALIVE, but EVERY WORD of IT – great or small – IS RELEVANT. Deep within the heart of the message of every SCRIPTURE, in fact, is hidden an even more intimate layer of GOD’S REVELATION to us. These are the things that help me transform from being a hearer of the WORD into a spiritual warrior equipped for the mission from MY KING!

Proverbs 3:5-6 says “trust in the Lord.” I must be really honest about this one – with four fingers pointing back at myself – our 2012 culture has conditioned us to trust in everything but GOD! This alone could be an entire different entry. Sticking to the message relevant for now…Do I truly trust GOD? When I don’t get the raise or the promotion I deserve and was promised – in fact, I was just let go? When my husband just walked out on me – the woman on his arm was my best friend? When I have prayed for healing – the symptoms are still there? Do I really trust in GOD with ALL of my heart? ALL, not some, not all part of the time.

Application to the Heart

FATHER, I’ve got to get past all of this first to really even claim that I am trusting YOU! All of my heart is tough, GOD – especially the parts I have reserved for the people that are important in my life. But, this too, GOD, I’m still beginning to be able to do.

But then, I get to “lean not into my own understanding,” OUCH…isn’t that what helped me get this far??? No, ew, I see, GOD – foolish pride. IT is only YOUR HOLY SPIRIT WHO helps me even begin to understand the things YOU have stored for us in YOUR WORD. And too often, rather than letting YOU unfold the message, I run off at the mouth foolishly believing that I have even began to activate THE WORD into my life. I can’t do this on my own, GOD. The situations where I don’t know that answers or can’t even begin to really understand the problems on my own – those situations are easy to trust into YOUR INFINITE WISDOM and wait for YOUR HOLY REVELATION. But those times where I think I know the answer, especially when it is concerning something I really want – those times – I really have a habit of understanding things all by myself. The problem is that my own wisdom can never measure up to THE ALL-KNOWING, OMNIPOTENT, GOD that YOU ARE, and YOUR KNOWLEDGE over creation – since YOU ARE THE CREATOR, GOD, ELOHIM. When I face a choice, any choice, I seek the consultation of YOU first….YOU promise that YOUR direction will be near!

 

You can find a thousand things these days to lean on for a rest,

but try and depend on any of those things to get you through life’s next test.

 

A chair can give your legs some time,

a bed your whole body can lay –

but only leaning and resting on GOD

can give you rest and direction throughout the day.

 

When it comes to gaining understanding,

well, you will find fewer WHO you can trust

to help you deal with temptation, carnality, and lust.

For most people really do not find themselves questioning these things,

they are far more interested in Facebook, clothes, and diamond rings.

 

But there is a MAN that promised HIS INFINITE WISDOM AND HIS GRACE.

HE promised to direct us through any circumstance we might face.

 

But we must lean upon HIM, not rest upon ourselves,

or we’ll find that our situation then becomes a place to dwell.

 

Trusting in CHRIST takes active participation;

seeing HIS WORD come alive, takes our activation.

 

We must put IT to work when the tests have arrived;

we must depend upon IT for our very own lives.

 

We must cling to HIS UNDERSTANDING; we must trust in HIS PROTECTION;

we must rely upon HIS AWESOME POWER – and receive HIS LOVING CORRECTION.

 

There is nothing in this life that should leave us with the question –

that if we gave it to THE CHRIST, HE will have THE BEST SUGGESTION.

 

 

The Savior Takes Great Delight in His Children

THE SAVIOR TAKES GREAT DELIGHT IN HIS CHILDREN

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“He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

When it comes to relationships, I’ve faced many personal disappointments in my life because of unmet expectations – unmet expectations in the areas of conversation, appreciation, encouragement, affection, intimacy…I can recall too many memories where I ended up feeling emotionally crushed because I hadn’t received the attention and affection I felt I deserved or needed at the time. I’m not just talking about romantic relationships either. These include the relationships with my parents, siblings, close friends, church family, relatives, and of course, the romantic ones too. I don’t think I’ve ever received the “celebration of myself” that my heart and self esteem thought they needed at the time – leaving me in the end, to feel hopeless, worthless, unappreciated. The enemy of my soul tried to use each unmet expectation in my life and redefine it as my overall worth. I struggled with this for thirty-seven years.

You can only begin to imagine the tremendous amount of abandonment I felt during the times in my life where I experienced personal failures. I mean, to already expect cartwheels and fireworks during the achievements in my life I felt were worthy of celebration, and find myself at the end of a lofty idea that was never to become a reality – these times were hard enough. But, the enemy took every failure that I made and amplified the magnitude of it under his microscope of lies and deceit. He used the disappointment of everyone I found my self worth and value from at that time to prove how big of an embarrassment I was to the world, possibly to even the KINGDOM OF GOD. If I Couldn’t get my loved one’s approval when I was trying, then I’d certainly never get it when I began to struggle and make mistakes like every other human on the face of the planet is prone to doing!

The BOOK OF ZEPHANIAH reveals the prophecy of a nation who felt very much like I did. Even at its best, it still wasn’t measuring up to GOD’S expectations, but at this point, it hasn’t even come close to GOD’S best. The nation of Israel faces THE FATHER’S judgment and wrath. And as deserved, they are foretold of its coming. But at the end of the recourse and demonstration of the depths of the consequences Israel is about to face for its rebellion, Zephaniah calls out to GOD’S remnant…a few CHOSEN…stuck right in the middle of a nation that is about to be destroyed. Through Zephaniah, GOD encourages HIS people with THE PROMISE of HIS FAITHFULNESS. After a cry of repentance, HE promises HIS restoration to HIS children. And looking beyond all of their present failures, HE says, “THE LORD YOUR GOD in your midst, THE MIGHTY ONE, will save; HE will quiet you with HIS love; HE will rejoice over you with singing.”

Wow!!! I don’t think I could have ever described more perfectly, what I have wanted to hear someone say to me my whole life –

“Joyelle, wait for ME, honey. I know it looks bad; it might even get worse – but I will be faithful. I see your failures. I have heard your repentance – don’t be ashamed anymore. Sing. Joyelle. Be who I designed you to be. Shine, Joyelle. You will no longer be judged by man. I AM here now; you have MY utter and complete attention. You don’t have to try and measure up to receive MY favor because it already rests upon you, child. I have watched you – every moment of your life – even the small incidental seconds. MY eyes haven’t missed a single one. Every time you felt you missed the mark – I saw it. Every time your goodness was overlooked but your bad deeds were amplified – I saw that too. You are MY daughter because I called you forth in your mother’s womb. I AM rejoicing over you.”

Me, GOD?

“You, Joyelle. I AM glad over you.”

Broken. I don’t understand how, GOD. I’ve failed so many…

“Joyelle, rest in MY arms. Let ME quiet you with MY LOVE. You will never want for the affection of anyone else, ever again. Listen, MY daughter; I wrote you a song.”

I think I have come to understand that man will never be able to clap loud enough for me when I think I’ve just given the most deserving of performances. My husband is never gonna flip cartwheels because I managed not to spend the entire $100 bill. I will never measure up to my earthly father’s expectations, nor will I ever sit on his lap as I had hoped, and hear him tell me how much he loves me. But, I have something of greater significance. I have the uninterrupted attention and eternal gaze of THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE. GOD’S EYES are fixed on me; HE sees me for who I was; who I am; who I am going to be. HE has taken record of every accomplishment, and HE knows about the failures I haven’t even made yet. Still, HE is rejoicing over me – there is a celebration in HEAVEN – thrown by THE KING OF KINGS. Every time HE IS ABLE to look at me accomplishing THE WILL HE PURPOSED – HE sings!

My heart can no longer be stirred with emptiness and disappointment. I am forever quieted by MY DADDY’S LOVE!

I’ve wrestled with myself all day, unaware of HIS affection,

feeling myself slip away, forgetting the connection –

between the love THE FATHER gave to me when HE sent HIS ONLY SON,

and the power that HE has to not just change my life, but the lives of everyone.

At just the point of breaking,

I come to realize within my heart

that ABBA can handle anything,

if I’d just give it to HIM from the start.

Instead of trying to handle things on just my useless, selfish merit –

I’d give it to the KING OF KINGS and find that I inherit

not only HIS delight in me, but also HIS compassion –

for my very life that is in HIS hands – the life that HE has fashioned.

You see, THE CREATOR had this day in mind

when HE formed me from the dirt;

HE knew the exact plans HE had for me;

HE knew exactly what I was worth.

HE knew the price HE would have to pay for me,

and saw that CHRIST was fit

to pay the price of all my sin

and redeem me from all of it.

MY DADDY truly delights in me;

You see, HE sees me through HIS SON –

and through the blood that HE shed for me

when paying the price for what I had done.

How can THE FATHER be satisfied with the child that HE’S created?

How can a child live up to all that the FATHER has anticipated?

How can our lives dance before HIM in such a way that it causes HIM to sing?

How can we share the pain or help alleviate the sting

of the punishment CHRIST paid for us when HE died upon the cross –

to save our souls from dying and save those who are lost?

THE ANSWER is so easy,

yet not as simple for you to do –

let JESUS be your SAVIOUR,

and HIS LIFE will transform you.

Let HIM change everything –

your actions, words, and deeds – saturated in HIS love.

Depend on FATHER GOD

and HIS storehouse from above.

Sit before HIS presence

when you’re thirsty, hungry, or just sad;

sit before the KING OF KINGS,

and HE will make you glad,

as HE quiets you with HIS abundance,

you will hear THE CREATOR singing,

as HE rejoices over you,

even the angels’ wings will be ringing –

up in HEAVEN as HE celebrates

the creation that HE has made,

all because we have chosen not to take for granted

the price that HE has paid.

Jesus is the Vine – His Father is the Husbandman

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“I am THE VINE and you are the branches. Whoever abides in ME and I in him, he bears much fruit.” John 15:5 

There is nothing quite as satisfying as picking fruits and vegetables from a garden. To labor and toil day in and day out, and finally see the literal “fruit of your labor,” well, I find it to be quite enjoyable. It is kind of hard being patient – waiting for that tomato to finally be ripe enough for picking. I wonder if that is how FATHER GOD feels as HE begins to see us blossom as HE intended? Or have we even hung on long enough to HIS vine for fruit to begin to develop?

I think that was my problem for most of my early years as a child of GOD – I just didn’t sit  still and abide long enough….always trying to fall off the branch and roll farther away from the garden than GOD intended. I can’t tell you how many years I’ve wasted or people I’ve hurt by living life – bouncing from one carnal branch to another.

A few years ago, I heard someone teach about engrafting dead branches into living trees to bring them back to life, and I realized GOD was talking to me. It is true that I have been imparted with many spiritual gifts and abilities, but these things do not flow out of themselves. They are attached to the trunk of CHRIST. When I am firmly rooted and grounded in HIM, then my life becomes a fertile branch – bearing much fruit for MY FATHER.

Have you ever found an apple growing

on the ground below,

or hanging from a dead tree branch,

swinging to and fro?

 

Have you ever found a bunch of grapes growing

healthy from the ground,

without no vine, no soil, no branch,

or anything around?

 

The laws of nature won’t allow the fruit

to grow absent from the vine –

just like GOD can’t allow it to grow in me

without taking special time.

 

To allow the fruits to ripen and reach

full maturity –

I must hang on just like the fruit

so HE can produce it within me.

Words That Transform

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“Kind words are like honey; sweet to the body and healthy for the soul.” Proverbs 16:24

             When I was a child, I often remember quietly reciting, “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Usually, it was after I had received a tongue beating from one of numerous kids that would tease and bully me throughout my adolescent years and on through high school. Even in college, I remember chanting it while closing my eyes really hard…as if both together would make the words magically stop and vanish the imprint that had been made on my heart – band-aid the slice mark it had just made across my mind. But, no matter how many times I said that little riddle, no matter how hard I clenched my eyes closed, the words of the riddle were never as loud or as effective as the words that were used to crush me emotionally.

The enemy has studied us since the moment of our conception. Since his job is to steal, kill, and destroy – this explains why he often finds cheap ammunition through the mouths of unaware sleepers. These seemingly unable to explain enemies that pop up all throughout our lives to recite all of the very same lines of torment. They are unaware of what they have done before they can reach the pause in their sentence, or put the period on the last sentence in their stone-throwing-monologue. Unknown to them, are the very plans the enemy has for their words – to spiritually assassinate anything good in our lives, anytime he will be able to get us to remember those words.

Yes, words are very powerful indeed. We understand this to be simple when we are on the receiving end. But 40 years later, I’m not that little kid anymore. I can remember the words; I can recall the emotional impact; I can see the imprint it has left on my personality. Although, I don’t think I’ve heard some of these same accusations since I was a teenager, they still hurt just as real and intense. The enemy brings them back to my memory at just the right times in my life – like the wax to seal an envelope – like the hit that scores the winning point – he provides the words as evidence to drive home the points he tries to infiltrate my mind with…

But then, I recall THE WORD. Every lie is bombarded with the healing ointment of SCRIPTURE. Satan screams, “sinner;” CHRIST screams, “saved.” Satan screams, “unworthy;” CHRIST screams, “price already paid.” Satan screams, “worthless;” Christ screams, “priceless.” You see, louder than the words that were used to try and break my spirit and rob me of the future Christ has for me – echoes HIS VOICE – HIS WORDS – HIS TRUTH. THESE WORDS override anything else I hear, if I choose to listen. THESE WORDS that usher in life, healing, restoration. THEY cheerlead me through the valley; THEY issue promises; THEY utter hope and the guarantee of a good future.

I do believe that if I were honest with myself, I would have to say that in terms of quantity, I can recall more words sent to destroy my life then to build it up. The enemy’s supply has never been short of people he can use to provide him the tongue to destroy the life of the Believer – total stranger, most trusted confidants, your family…so; I can remember these words endlessly – if I tried to.

But in terms of quality – in terms of real impact – it is the rare times in my life where GOD brought someone to me to speak HIS WORDS…THESE are the times more easily reminisced. THESE are the echoes in my cave. THEY are changing present circumstances, even though they were spoken in the past.

Proverbs 16:24 says, “kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” This SCRIPTURE describes the kind of words that literally transform the flavor of a person’s soul. Wow! Just think about how powerful an ingredient – able to take something bitter and make it sweet enough that a human being is better able to endure life because the words you have spoken have made it more palatable. Pretty powerful. Pretty scary in my opinion. I really wanna know that I’m speaking the right ones – don’t you? What are kind words?

GOD’S WORD. GOD’S WORD spoken at the right time, in the right season – nothing added; nothing taken away…

When our mouths become GOD’S cooking vessel in another person’s life, by allowing HIS WORDS only to fall off our tongues into the pots of life – then, HE IS ABLE to transform the most bitter of circumstances. GOD’S WORD IS sweeter than sugar, which actually dissolves on the tongue. IT IS sticky, long-lasting, and able to get all over everything – just like honey. You know what I mean – go put your hand in a jar of honey and see if it doesn’t wind up getting all over everything. Soon, everything you touch will tattle where your hands have been. Soon enough, you’ll find your walls, counters, books, everything – sticky with the residue.

GOD’S WORD spoken in HIS season is honey to a person’s inner soul…it sticks to the ribcage and to the heart. Years later, that person will find themselves getting heated up in this kitchen we call “life,” and the HOLY SPIRIT will reach back into their pantry. HE’LL pull out a jar of the sweetest things that were whispered during the darkest of seasons. HE will use HIS spoon of grace and begin to lavish that person with the thickness and reality of a honey so sweet, that they too, will soon have forgotten the bitter because of the sweet. Their souls will find nourishment; their bodies will find health; it will stick to everything – leaving nothing untransformed. And when the season of that life has changed, it will leave behind a residue that will eternally tattle THE STORY of A HONEY so sweet, that IT saved their bitter lives!

 

The tongue, though small, is still a mighty weapon indeed;

it can be quick to destroy or aid someone in need.

It can brighten up the most hopeless of any situation;

it can lead a soul down a dark path of temptation.

 

It can build up a person and encourage a heart;

it can rip someone in half and emotionally tear them apart.

The secret lies in understanding the ways,

we can use words to give life and add length to our days.

 

See, unlike wild animals that roam to and fro –

unable to express what they feel, what they know,

GOD’S given us the ability to speak –

ask questions and find the answers we seek.

 

We are able to seek HIS presence in prayer –

call out to others and know that they’re there.

HE’S given us the ability to speak death and to speak life –

add balm to wound or cut it more like a knife.

 

Yes, words are a very powerful tool,

and once they start coming, they unwind like a spool.

They come undone, unraveled, wasted so fast;

most people blow through them even faster than cash –

 

without even considering the effect that they had…

did they make someone’s day or just make them feel sad?

Did we use them like sugar to make someone’s day sweet?

Will we use them to encourage everyone that we meet?

 

Or are our words more like salt – just adding more sting

to everyone’s wounds – only worsening things,

instead of speaking a blessing we curse,

instead of THE WORD – it’s the culture we rehearse?

 

Words are like honey; they sweeten the heart;

they heal broken wounds, even before the wounds start.

They suture up souls that are dying and scared;

they bring hope to the hopeless and show that God still cares.

 

Yes, our words can be a mighty weapon indeed

or we can use them to help and build a real ministry,

everywhere that we go, everyone that we see –

we can use our words to build up and bring GOD the glory!

 

 

My Book Study of Fervent

spiritual warfare

Learning to Recognize the enemy

Day 2 – Request for Discernment on How to Appropriately Apply the Weapons of My Warfare and Pray Effectively Even When I Don’t Feel Like It 

Father, I don’t think it was by chance today that You spoke Ephesians 6 to my heart, and then led me to memorize Psalm 26. I am wanting to grow as a strong and faithful warrior for You in my prayer life, and I recognize that the dark issues in my heart can quench Your ability to operate in my life if I don’t submit them to You. My memory verses today are Psalms 26:1-3 – “Judge me, Oh Lord, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord; therefore, I shall not slide. Examine me, Oh Lord, and prove me. Try my reins and my heart. For Your lovingkindess is always before mine eyes, and I have walked in the truth.” I realize that the events that occur in my day-to-day life are opportunities to allow You to show me what is really inside of my heart. I also recognize that, too often, I fail to engage the weapons You have provided and to protect my heart and mind with Your Word. I cannot teach my children how to do what I have failed to learn myself. I need Your help. I struggle with jealousy, unforgiveness, and control – especially when dealing with my parents, my siblings, and situations within my home. I believe that the root of my problem is fear and trust. I fear things will not go the way I want them to, and I fail to actively trust You to work out the situations – but instead, try to control them myself. I often compare myself to other people, and this often leaves me feeling less than who You say I am. I know that who I am is only as important as recognizing the truth and submitting myself to Your authority in my life in areas where my thoughts and my heart are not lined up with the Word of God. I am asking You to empower me with supernatural strength and desire to fight the way You have called me to fight. I recognize I cannot do this in my own strength. I am utterly hopeless on my own. But You said that Your strength is made perfect in my weakness (II Cor. 12:9). Father, I choose to praise You in the middle of my weakness because I know that You are truly where my strength resides (II Cor. 12:10). Father, help me not compare myself to anything except Your Word and help me not be proud or boastful in my attempts to trust You. I fail miserably when I do. Thank You for equipping me with powerful weapons. Help me keep my head in the right game and keep my focus on You when the enemy comes to distract me. My faith is only as strong as I am willing to fight, and I thank You for giving me weapons, which are strong and mighty – able to pull down every stronghold in my life. My carnal attempts at fighting will fail every time, but Your Word will never fail. I bring my feelings and thoughts under the authority of Your Word (II Cor. 10:4-5). Lord, I am in a spiritual fight; help me fight this in the spiritual realm, where You have already won the victory…it is my job to walk it out. I thank You that my human weaknesses and failures will not cause You to stop loving me – nor can the enemy snatch me out of Your arms (Rom. 8:38-39). Help me to understand this the minute I realize I have failed You, so that I will not waste my time bathing in self pity. I know that Jesus Christ is Lord of my life, and at His Name, even my feelings and thoughts must submit (Phil. 2:9-11). I praise You, God, for bringing me this far. You rescued me from the bondage of addiction, self destruction, depression, and self pity. When the enemy was trying to get me to destroy myself, You snatched me from his grip and rescued me (Ps. 30:1, Ps. 40). Although, I feel like I screw up a million times a day, I refuse to give up or to relinquish my identity in You and Your promises in my life. Though I dwell in this dust-made vessel, You give me life (Micah 7:8). I know that You will rescue me every time, and I acknowledge that I am engaged in a spiritual war that You will help me win as I learn to rely on You for help. Lead me in Your direction and keep me off the path of familiarity of trusting in myself. Help me to discern when I am being tempted and trust in You to deliver me from my situation. Deliver me from the enemy’s plan and give me the mentality that lines up with Your kingdom (Matt. 6:13). You are always faithful, and You will not fail to strengthen me, to equip me, or to protect me from the enemy (II Thess. 3:3). You have made an open shew of the enemy, as You triumphed over him once and for all through the efforts and successes of Your Son, Jesus Christ (Col. 2:15). Everything I will ever face is already under the feet of Jesus Christ. Help me to recognize that the enemy’s plan for my life has already been overruled because Jesus is the head authority of my life (Eph. 1:20-22). You have destroyed the enemy in the context of the spiritual realm; help me to fight what I feel in the physical realm and to engage in an already won battle in the spiritual arena of my life where Jesus Christ has already guaranteed my victory at the cross (Heb. 2:14). Thank You for destroying the works of the enemy. Thank You for allowing me to be born of a spiritual birth. Help me to die to my physical self, so that You can be manifested in my life (I John 3:9-10).

 

 

My Book Study of FERVENT

My journey to a prayer life that is pleasing to God.

Day 1 – A Request for a Passion to Pray

Father, you promised me you would come to me like the spring rain watering the earth (Hosea 6:3). I realize, God, that I have a heart of stone, and I ask You to give me a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 32:26) – one that cries out for more communion and fellowship with You. You promised  me in Your Word that I would find You and that You would answer me when I seek You with all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my mind, and all of my strength (Mark 12:30, Jeremiah 29:12-13, Deuteronomy 30:6). I am asking You to reveal all of the areas of my heart and my mind that are not fully committed to You and to give me the desire and the ability to give you 100%. Father, give me a steadfast spirit. Create in me a clean heart and teach me to pray without wavering (Psalm 51:10). Your loving-kindness and compassion for me will never cease. Today, make it a new season in my life of passionate prayer  because Your faithfulness is so great (Lamentations 3:22-23). Circumcise my heart wholly for Your use. Bubble up within me a passion to pray without ceasing (Deuteronomy 30:6).

prayer

 

How Far Will The Saviour Go For Those He Loves?

For the Glory of My King Jesus

 

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God will be with you wherever you may go.” Joshua 1:9

 

When I first drew this picture, I accidentally put the wrong Scripture reference with it. Initially, I had Jonah 1:9, and after much debate with my husband, I finally realized that he was correct, and that this Scripture was actually found in Joshua 1:9. I actually wrote two different responses then realized that the two of them actually worked together to prove how far God will actually go for those He loves. The story of Jonah was only a confirmation that God is truly with His people – wherever they may go! I found it appropriate to leave both of my responses as they were:

Drawing this picture, I had only pondered the light-hearted tone of the pastel colored cars and peaceful rolling hills – leaving me with an overwhelming sense of encouragement as I was…

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The Race Isn’t Over Yet & I Ain’t Quitting

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“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” Philippians 3:12-15

Over this holiday season, I have found myself dealing with some situations I have never really dealt with before in a real and organic way. Most everyone that knows me knows my testimony and the personal struggles I had with addiction for almost 20 years of my life.  This past year, I made a personal decision to let God have my desire for alcohol too…it was the last thing I was holding back, trusting it to help me when I faced difficult emotional situations that I wanted to escape – most of them surrounding my family and a broken past that I caused because I had hurt people with my words instead of dealing with my feelings with maturity and wisdom when I felt rejected or unloved.

It has appeared to be a pretty easy commitment to keep while I have stayed in my own comfortable surroundings within my church family and within my own home. I can truly say that over the past year, I haven’t had any temptations to return to my old behaviors and that trusting God in my daily walk has been somewhat more simple than I would have thought it to be several years ago. But as the holiday season approached and the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones I have been separated from presented itself to me, I found things to grow quite difficult rather quickly…and although I didn’t end up on the emotional roller coaster I was always used to riding, I still found myself surrounded by an emotional storm and the temptation to run away from it.

For the last couple of years, God has been teaching me that I have continually made the mistake of looking to my parents, my siblings, my husband, my children – looking to people to always meet my emotional needs rather than to God. I never found what I was looking for – only more rejection and pain. And I always blamed everybody else…never looked inwardly to Jesus Christ who wants to be my everything and is the only One who will ever be able to completely fulfill my emotional, spiritual, and physical needs.

God allowed me to be in the middle of some pretty difficult situations over the past couple of weeks, and He provided no exit of escape except for the testimony of Jesus Christ and the help of the Holy Spirit. Being around a bunch of people that have only known the self-destructive Joyelle that I was for many many years was a terribly painful atmosphere. Realizing that the barriers I placed between them and myself could not be torn down overnight or fixed instantaneously truly tested my desire to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus Christ. The old me wanted desperately to pop out its ugly head instead of enduring in the patient love Jesus has been teaching me this past year and giving people time to learn that they can trust this new creation I am becoming.

There wasn’t a magical moment where all the pain suddenly disappeared – unlike what I had hoped for and expected, God didn’t allow me to feel completely embraced by those I had hurt and ruined trust between. Instead, He left me in the middle of the awkwardness and brokenness. Instead, He allowed me to feel all the things I have always felt – the rejection, the bitterness, the jealousy, the disconnection, the impatience, the unacceptance – all the emotions that used to lead me on a search to chemically alter what I was feeling – He allowed my atmosphere to be perfectly uncomfortable, and He taught me that He was still there.

Late Monday night, He spoke to my heart and told me to look at Philippians 3:12-15. As usual, I didn’t just read the one verse, I read the entire chapter.  When I was finished reading it, I have to admit, I didn’t find myself feeling any better, nor did it make complete sense why the Holy Spirit had led me to that particular Scripture…but God was just starting the lesson.

Too often, I have expected God to suddenly relieve my pain and deliver me from my situations.  God reminded me last night that He has spent the past several months teaching me about abiding in His presence and allowing Him to grow the fruits of His Spirit within me.  For many, submitting to this process may be easy – for me, submission to any long process that is characterized by internal conflict and emotional pain is far from simple and quite uncharacteristic of the person I had always been. But God loves me so much, that He didn’t allow me to run from it this time.  Instead, in the middle of each situation, He quietly reminded me of all the Scriptures I have been memorizing, meditating upon and studying for the past six months – Psalm 18, Psalm 91, Psalm 51, Psalm 103, and John 15. He quietly reminded me of the three words He had spoken to my heart back in July – abide, benefit, and endure. He patiently reminded me that He wanted me to learn how to abide in His presence and His judgment, reap the benefits of repentance and restoration, and endure to the end through allowing the Holy Spirit to reign in my life.

I am amazed how God gave me those Scriptures back in July of this year and told me He wanted me to memorize and study them. I had no idea what situations He would place me in months later, but He did…He did what every good teacher always does – He gave me the information I needed,  then allowed me to face problems where I had to use the information to solve them. He taught me to apply the information to my life and walk it out.

We can talk about being like Jesus Christ all day long…but it isn’t until we face the difficult tests that we really find out who we are and who Christ wants to be within us. It is only in the middle of the trials and the tests that He can truly reveal the dark and hidden things within our hearts that don’t truly line up with His Word and His character. It is His loving way of leading us into true repentance and disciplining us with His Word. It is easy to listen to a lesson about growing fruit in our lives; it is something totally different and far from simple allowing Him to actually grow the fruit within us as we submit to His personality shining through us.

Over and over again during the last month while memorizing John 15, the Holy Spirit has spoken the word “relational” to my Spirit man. He has reinforced the theme of fruits of the Spirit – how they are all relational in nature and are grown within us through relationships with other people that He allows in our lives. Growing in Christ cannot happen without abiding on the Vine. The Vine is Jesus Christ and the realization that He wants to manifest Himself within us when we are faced with the alternative of responding to people in a way that is contrary to His nature, especially when we feel we have a right to do this. Being a follower of Christ demands that we lay down our personal rights, and submit to His personality.  This has been the struggle I have faced for the past few weeks…and it is a struggle that I chose not to run from for the first time in my life.

When I thought I had it all together, God began pruning me – a process that is painful and isn’t natural to submit to as we realize that during this pruning process the tree appears to be totally dead and lifeless…but a new season rolls around, and we find the tree to be more hardy and fruitful than ever before could have been without the season of pruning. It is what we choose to do with ourselves during this season of pruning that makes the difference – do we submit and die to ourselves or do we resort to our old nature? Do we choose to abide in God’s Word and actually stand in the middle of the test and trial or do we run away from it and seek the shelter of our comfortable carnal emotional responses? Do we rely on our nature or do we choose Christ’s nature instead? Do we quit the race or endure to the end for our spiritual prize?

Every day, we face the testing of our faith – the place where we find out if we truly believe or whether we are just in it for what we can selfishly gain. Spiritual fruit doesn’t grow in our lives by never facing pain or escaping from it when it appears on the scene. Spiritual fruit grows in the middle of our pain.

I am thankful today that God is greater than he that is in this world. I am thankful that God has already overcome every difficult situation that I will ever face through the testimony of Jesus Christ. I am thankful that He loves me too much to let me stay comfortable where I am. I am thankful that He is faithfully teaching me how to endure through Him, and that He truly does make all things new – especially me!

I haven’t gained the prize yet…I don’t understand it all, and I haven’t already arrived – but I realize that I am in a race of my faith…and I am enduring to the end! I am so thankful that God faithfully reveals the areas of my heart that He still wants to clean, and I have chosen to submit to the process!

 

John 15 – Chewing on The Vine

Felt led to repost! I am learning to “hang in there.”

For the Glory of My King Jesus

I have been memorizing John 15 for the past week, and God has been revealing Himself to me as I have chewed upon each verse. I thought it would be good to share some of the revelations He has given me concerning this paritcular chapter of Scripture:

Revelation 1 – 11/215 –  12:39pm – John 15:1-4

New revelation for me today – abiding in the vine = dwelling in a place of obedience to God’s Word when the enemy sends a strong wind from hell to blow us off the vine; staying fixed and settled in a place of obedience to God’s Word, so He can grow the necessary fruit for that season of our lives. IE – Fruit doesn’t grow without opposition, so EXPECT strong winds from the enemy of our souls. Do not grow weary or feel forsaken. God only gives the enemy so much room to work…

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The Only Present That Matters Wasn’t Found Under a Tree

In light of the season being celebrated, I thought it appropriate to magnify the only present worthy of being magnified: Jesus Christ. I hope my blog today will leave you encouraged…
 
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of GOD; not as a result of works that no one should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
 
We live in a very competitive world. We are used to tuning in to the game to see the winning score; asking our kids why their grades are slipping on their report cards; comparing the bottom figures on our paychecks, and revving our engines at the stoplight to prove we have the fastest cars. We are conditioned to win, and when we can’t – most of us are programmed to quit.
 
One problem with always seeking first place is that there can only be one at the top. So, what does that mean about everybody else? The other problem that can arise with first place is that you really never know who is doing the judging. What are the actual standards that define first places? Does first place really mean anything to GOD? Many of us have not been fortunate enough to ever appreciate blue ribbons and trophies. So, where does that place us when it comes to value?
 
I’ve spent a fair share of my life trying to earn so many things and never found the satisfaction I expected or the respect I thought I deserved. I certainly haven’t won a lot of awards or ribbons throughout my life. I am thankful that salvation is not determined by our resumes, grade point averages, or trophy cabinets. GOD knew that there would be no recognition worthy enough to receive salvation as its reward, so HE sent HIS SON as THE ULTIMATE GIFT. One sacrifice, one death, one resurrection – this alone would become the basis for life’s most precious reward – not determined by merit – but a free gift to all those that have faith in JESUS CHRIST.
 
I have earned a lot of things from working hard –
like merits, plaques, and raises –
but none of these earned GOD’S reward,
or brought any of HIS praises.
 
I have found myself worthy
and thought I had paid the cost –
but no amount I could have given,
would have redeemed the lost.
 
I might have earned a lot of things,
might have gained some recognition –
but nothing in life can earn HIS love,
not even good decisions.
 
When it comes to redemption,
I can never be good enough for it to earn –
there’s no righteous deed that’s good enough,
for it, HIS face to turn.
 
The only thing GOD understands
is HIS redeeming grace,
and being accused of being HIS
when we look upon HIS face.
 
For when it comes down to salvation,
nothing I can do will ever earn HIS love.
To earn the gift of HIS salvation –
no work could ever be enough.

A Father Who Takes Care of His Own

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“Why even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7

 

            I can look back over the last five years of my life and recall numerous times where I found my faith being tested when it came to God’s providence. To elaborate on the details about each instance would take another book; the specifics really aren’t important anyway. What is important is that God has always taken care of me. Situations have arisen in my life that were beyond hopeless, but God always comes on the scene with fresh hope. I can’t say He hasn’t allowed me to reach the edge – but I think that is how God likes to do things. When situations look as if they are beyond redemption, it allows God to show off exactly how powerful He is.

I guess it’s hard to trust God like this if we don’t take every Word of Scripture as the Absolute Truth…but I do. I’m silly enough to believe that God has actually been keeping up with every single hair that falls off of my head to the ground, and that He will rain manna from Heaven to feed my family in the middle of a famine. I serve an omnipotent, all-powerful Father. He cares so much about my life that He left a record of countless situations that were beyond redemption, and He used people who were silly enough to have that same faith to show the entire world how truly awesome He really is.

I am so thankful for each situation where God has allowed me to walk close to the edge of hopelessness – it has only provided me all the evidence I will ever need to prove that there is nothing in my life that is too difficult for Him to handle or so far gone that He can’t turn it around. The same God who takes care of His creation has proven that He is more than able to take care of me too!

How can I be worried or let my heart feel dread,

when God cares so much for me, He’s counted even the very hairs upon my head?

I admit it’s difficult to imagine if you’re anything like me –

how God can keep a count of every hair, even the ones we cannot see!

 

But His Word promises us that He has them all each numbered –

this same God cares so much for me, He never sleeps or slumbers.

How can I be anxious or ever begin to doubt –

if God takes care of all the birds, would He let me do without?

 

Can you find a sparrow that’s anxious about where he’ll build his nest?

For heavens, no, God cares so much – He even gives the sparrow rest!

God’s Word has promised us – in fact it guarantees –

that since God cares about the sparrow, then He obviously cares so much more for me!

 

How can I ever put any thought or concern into the problems that I face?

If God cares so much for creation – how much more does He care about the human race?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strength to the Weary

An older blog I had written – posting in hopes that it will encourage someone today:
 
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, The Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might, He increases strength.” Isaiah 40:28-29
 
I can’t read this verse of Isaiah without starting at the very beginning of the chapter, for it is one of the very first chapters of Scripture I can remember falling in love with. As a young teen, I can remember Isaiah 40:31 being my father’s favorite Scripture. As a high school track athlete, it is one of the verses I recall singing as I would make the last lap of a race. It is a wonderful “get you through life when you’re at the end of your ropes but you’re still bear the finish line” kind of verses like Philippians, I press forward…”
But at 37 years old, I’ve grown to appreciate the entire chapter of Isaiah 40 because it describes The Mighty Creator of the universe who gives strength to little people like me. Specifically, today, July 9, 2012, it makes all of my other problems that I have allowed the enemy to magnify in my life, look so minute when I consider Who my Savior really IS. We habitually live in a frustrated, confused, and defeated condition simply because we haven’t let Isaiah 40 be anchored to our hearts, minds, and disposition.
I have seen God; I have seen Him save me from the snatches of a dog; I have seen Him breathe breath in me when I couldn’t for myself; I have seen Him close the mouth of the enemy I was headed for his fangs; I have seen Him give me the desire of my heart when the doctors said never; I have seen Him sway the car when it almost hit; I have seen Him lead me out of the pits of hell and set my feet on The Rock; I’ve seen Him – over and over again…but, even if I’ve never seen all of that – I can open my eyes and see evidence of Him everywhere else.
I have heard God. I’ve heard His voice saying “don’t,” when I’m tempted. I have heard His voice remind me of His Word when I was alone. I’ve heard His correction. I’ve heard….and even if I’ve never heard all of that – I can open my ears and hear evidence of Him everywhere else…
Yes, This God is My Daddy!
 
 
I found myself reaching and grasping,
I had reached the end of my rope –
God was asking me to look up
but instead I had chosen to mope.
 
The enemy has been having a field day,
causing me so much heartache, turmoil, and strife –
instead of meditating on God’s promises
I found myself worrying all through the night.
 
My problems are heavy; my burdens are great,
don’t know how much more I can bare.
I feel my spirit is beginning to break.
Sometimes I wonder if God is still there.
 
When, all of a sudden, just like a dam breaks,
my emotional walls start caving within.
Now, my heart is broken in two,
giving God’s Spirit a chance to walk in.
 
How could I forget the promises made
when my Savior, He died on the tree?
My God in His wisdom knew this it would take –
His Son to rescue and strengthen me.
 
The Creator knew everything I’d ever need
before He spoke my life into being.
He knew every instance which from I would need rescuing,
without, ever one seeing.
He was waiting for the moment I’d realize
I wasn’t equipped to make it alone,
but to depend on the wisdom and strength of the Almighty Creator
and His Son who sits on the throne.
 
When my Spirit man is weary,
and I feel my heart start to faint –
rather than quit,
I’ll call on God for His strength.
 
I’ll depend on the Creator
instead of myself –
trusting in Him
with every problem I’m dealt.
 
His wisdom’s unsearchable –
His knowledge – can’t be contained….
choosing to trust in myself – rather than Him –
it’s insane!
 
When He’s already written every day in His book,
when He already knows how the story ends –
I cannot go wrong when I chose not to trust in myself –
but instead, rely totally on Him!

Seeking A Kingdom Not of This World

Revelation 7 – 11:51 am – 12/8/15

I do not mind that people make fun of me; I am the first to make fun of myself; I am also the first to admit that I can be the most pitiful and asinine of all God’s creation. I am also aware of all of my oddities, and I believe I am reflection of God’s sense of humor. I do not mind being the source of people’s amusement; after all, the prefix of my name is “Joy” – a fruit of God’s Spirit – and the suffix of my name is “Elle” – which is traced back to Greek and Hebrew roots meaning “sun ray” or “God is my oath.” Therefore, the essence of my name can mean “the joy of God,” “God’s sun ray of joy,” or “the oath of God is my joy.” And this – I take very seriously. I also understand that many people think I take things all too serious – especially my walk with Jesus Christ. If they had walked the path I walked for 40 years in the wilderness, perhaps they could better understand why I take the Word of God so seriously. Like the Israelites, I too almost died in the wilderness during my years of wandering. Unlike some who might not have seriously battled specific sins that could result an immediate death, I walked closely with evil for many years of my life; it almost killed me. I take evil seriously, and I avoid it at all costs because I understand what it means to be in direct conflict with God’s nature. I realize that my convictions sometimes upset people and cause them to somewhat keep me at a distance. This has caused me great disappointment at times in my life because I, like most people, want people to genuinely like me. But I was not put on this earth for man’s approval. I am seeking a higher prize, and I am running a serious race. I do not care to be swept away by things that have no value. I have enjoyed many worldly things in my life: including man’s approval, great riches, big homes, nice cars, and popularity. These things brought me no lasting joy and no real satisfaction. The only real joy and satisfaction I have ever found is in the revelation of Jesus Christ and abiding in His Word. I am learning that this is a difficult task, as loving Jesus Christ with all of my heart requires me to love those who do not really love me, who in fact, make fun of me and say all manner of evil against me. But I am learning to let God be the source of my love for others. I am learning to allow Him to love people through me. I am learning the meaning of true love, and I believe these types of circumstances are, in fact, tests – where God allows me to be shaken in order to learn another aspect of His nature and to choose to grow more fruits of His Spirit in my life. I am a work in progress. I am learning how to walk in love, how to be patient, and how to suffer long with people. This is a difficult process for me because I do not like seeing the people I love open spiritual doors in their lives that I know could lead them astray.  I understand that most people really do not want to understand more about these doors they have opened in their lives, and while I continue to learn how to persevere in all humility, patience, and long-suffering, I will also not water down God’s Truth for man’s approval. If my convictions upset people, then perhaps, this is what they are supposed to do. Next time I do or say something that is offensive to you, or causes you to think I am too serious, then perhaps you should ask me why I believe the way I do. I will be more than happy to give you my testimony and explain why I take God’s Word as seriously as I do. For now, I am going to keep on being my same old silly self – laugh with me – laugh at me – don’t take me too serious at all – but take the message of Jesus Christ very seriously, after all – He died for you!

The Savior Takes Great Delight in His Children

Written back in 2013 – revisited today

For the Glory of My King Jesus

Image

He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

When it comes to relationships, I’ve faced many personal disappointments in my life because of unmet expectations – unmet expectations in the areas of conversation, appreciation, encouragement, affection, intimacy…I can recall too many memories where I ended up feeling emotionally crushed because I hadn’t received the attention and affection I felt I deserved or needed at the time. I’m not just talking about romantic relationships either. These include the relationships with my parents, siblings, close friends, church family, relatives, and of course, the romantic ones too. I don’t think I’ve ever received the “celebration of myself” that my heart and self esteem thought they needed at the time – leaving me in the end, to feel hopeless, worthless, unappreciated. The enemy of my soul tried to…

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The Disease of Spiritual Gluttony and/or Anorexia

– The Disease of Spiritual Gluttony and/or Anorexia  (Philippians 3:18-19) –

GLUTTONY +     HungryFor-Fish       =                                                                          hungry-lazy-skeleton

AKA – A Hunger that is Never Satisfied – A Branch that is Withering – A Life that Never Produces Fruit – Fruit Going to Waste Because It Isn’t Being Used

I don’t know about you, but I am ready to see God transform my life in such a way that I can actually be useful to the Body of Christ. I can’t do it alone, and if you’ve read this far, then perhaps, you agree. The message that you are reading, I write because this is the message God has been teaching me. Within the past week, I have found myself saying that perhaps I am just the callous on the toe of the body, meant to lovingly provoke the Body of Christ to get about the business of exfoliating me – who knows! But I am uncomfortable with staying where I am, and I have a hunger for more of Jesus Christ. My appetite should help increase your appetite – if for nothing more – than to study the Word of God for yourself to find proof that I am wrong.

The Disease

Symptoms – feeling like God doesn’t answer our prayers; emptiness and dissatisfaction that we try to suppress or feed but never goes away; a numbness to the people around us who are hurting that never turns into active compassion which drives us to serve others; a growing weariness with the routines of religious experiences that never lead to repentance or revival

Are you brave enough to do something about it? Or are you going to stop reading and leave it up to someone else to hopefully fix one day?

*** Spoiler Alert – the Truth sometimes hurts! ***

The Causes of the Disease:

  1. American Christians have grown to be lazy consumers of religious experiences. Many of us all too often fall on the side of extremes- of either religious gluttony or spiritual anorexia. We are either stuffed full of someone else’s sermons while we do nothing with what we learn except let it rot within our bellies- or we entirely depend on a Sunday morning Word, while we spiritually starve ourselves the other six days of the week. We have our five minute devotion that is based entirely on someone else’s revelation of who God is- usually written to tickle our ears and make us feel good – and we check Bible Study off our daily to-do-lists. We have our five minute “wish list” prayer to God declaring all the items we want Him to do for us throughout our day- and we check prayer time off our to-do-lists. We go on throughout our day. We are hurting on the inside. We are struggling with sin. We are experiencing no real change or transformation in our lives. Our diets are killing our spiritual lives from the inside out.
  2. We show up to the church building to “have church” a couple of times of week and consume a little bit more, while we put on our happy faces and sit in our comfortable seats- hiding who we really are- our struggles, our pain, our testimonies- and check that off our lists too. We come and go, come and go- come and go- thinking church is the place- failing to realize that we ARE the church. We attend church on a regular basis and treat it as if it was an all-you-can-eat buffet – hoarding the things we like and leaving the things we don’t care for or complain because we didn’t get the golden morsel from the message we were hoping to find – that is able to nourish us throughout the remaining days of the week. We look to the pastor to be the master chef, and we look to others to serve us instead of seeing where we can plug in and serve others.
  3. As a result, we go to church week after week, and we leave the same exact person we were when we came. We have failed to recognize that we shouldn’t be going to church – we ARE the church! We ARE the actual body of Jesus Christ. Each one of us have been given spiritual gifts, and God expects us to use those gifts within the Body of Christ. Being part of the Church Body means we must participate! We cannot look to our pastors to do it all, nor our Sunday school teachers, nor our music leaders, nor our youth leaders. We cannot see ourselves as recipients alone. Nor can we come to church and sit in our own little places with our own cliques of friends – wearing our religious masks – acting as if we are all OK. Church is not a country club, a social club, or a religious experience.

And if we say we realize it, then we are still either too lazy or too immature and unequipped to actually realize what that means.

Let’s face it- how many of us really want God in all of our business? How many of us really want the complete conviction of God’s Word? How many of us would rather just keep God on our nice little check lists so we can feel good? But how often are we still feeling empty and unsatisfied at the end of the day with all that we have consumed?

We start the next day over and consume the same diet…we convince ourselves that we are ok- but in our hearts- we really don’t have the faith and obedience to see the work of God transforming our lives. We don’t even know what it means, and we are certainly not going to ask our brothers and sisters for help because that means we have to take off our religious masks. That means we might have to let go of our pride that disguises itself as fear of rejection, being talked about, and being hurt by other Christians.

The church is not to meet at a place but to be THE PLACE where members of The Body can find healing, exhortation, reproof, rebuke, guidance, counsel, and prayer. Too often, we put on our best faces to go to church. That is exactly opposite of what God wants from us. God is looking for brokenness and humility. He is looking for us to serve Him in our need not in our excess. He is looking to be made stronger in our weakness. He is looking for us to Be the Body not go to church.

We cannot expect real change in our lives nor can we expect to see the Holy Spirit move in our lives when we treat church like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Nor can we expect to see the Gospel come fully alive in our own lives when we treat church as a social club. In order for our lives to be radically changed, we must find out what part of the Body we actually are and function in that place. The Word of God should not be a five-minute thing we do to check off on our morning lists nor should our prayer time with God be something we check off of our morning lists as well. The Word of God must be sound in our hearts; we must abide in it on a constant basis; we should be praying without ceasing.

Too often we look to the Word of God to find a fuzzy encouragement to continue down the same paths we are already on. We forget to understand that the Word of God is given for wisdom, reproof, instruction, and correction. God is a God of love. And you cannot separate His love from His correction (Hebrews 12:6-11, Proverbs 3:11-14, II Timothy 4:1-5). He uses The Word and the lives of the people that belong to the Body of Christ to buffer and sharpen one another. We cannot truly receive all that Christ has for us while continuing to hide behind our masks and keep God on our “morning to-do list.”

 

Diagnosis of the Disease:

  1. Work Out Your Salvation With Fear and Trembling – Begin By Examining What Fruit Your Life Produces

*** Spoiler Alert – If it doesn’t look like a duck, and quack like a duck, it probably ain’t a duck! ***

Some of us have been ‘saved’ for longer than we were ‘unsaved,’ and NOTHING in our lives has really changed except how we FEEL from day to day. This has all too often described MYSELF – so I am preaching to MYSELF. If it convicts your heart too, then perhaps it should. If the power of God is not evident in our lives by recognizable fruit, then we must truly examine ourselves to see if we are connected to the Vine (II Corinthians 13:5, Psalm 132:23-24, John 15, Matthew 7:15-20)!

You might say- like I had for a long time, “I’m only human. God knows I’ll never be perfect.”

How dare we doubt that our human weaknesses can keep God from doing all that He wants to accomplish in us; yet, at the same time claim that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above ALL that we ask OR think, ACCORDING to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20-21).  How shameful considering, He Who has called us, has also EQUIPPED us (II Corinthians 10:1-6, Ephesians 6:13-18)!

God will faithfully complete this process in us, as we submit ourselves to Him (Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 2:1, I Thessalonians 5:24, I John 4:16, I John 3:1, Hebrews 11:6, Isaiah 7:9, Proverbs 10:24). The Word of God makes clear that those who belong to Him will be glorified (Romans 8:30), but that no one will be glorified who does not continue in the faith (I Corinthians 15:1-2, Colossians 1:21-23, Matthew 10:22, John 15).

Yes, we cannot do this by ourselves – we will miserably fail if we rely upon our own strength. We were not meant to do it by ourselves. We were meant to be weak and emptied of ourselves – broken and spilled out; therefore, needing, depending, and relying upon the strength of Jesus Christ continually – who is made perfect in our weakness (II Corinthians 12:8-10, Psalm 51:17)

  1. Do We Take Suffering Seriously and Embrace It?

*** Spoiler Alert – If we don’t feel like we’re suffering in this process, then there is a problem. ***

As we read in II Timothy 2, Paul stresses the importance of living faithfully before God, even to the point of suffering. II Timothy 2 makes it clear that if we do not find ourselves suffering for the sake of  Christ, then we are not truly being diligent in our service to Christ. The suffering he speaks of doesn’t necessarily describe persecution from others, as much and as often as it describes the suffering we should be experiencing as we deny our fleshly appetites and submit it to the Spirit of God within us – suffering caused by laying down our old selves and becoming the new creation we are called to become (II Corinthians 5:17-21, Romans 12:1-2). This suffering happens as we diligently study and apply God’s Word in our lives. Application of the Word of God is of utmost importance, as it is the proof that we are truly God’s children. Without application of the Word, we prove ourselves to be gluttons – We become guilty of what Jesus described in Matthew 15:7-9. We profess God with our mouths, but we fail to honor Him with our lives. We become so full of Scripture, while we neglect the most important ministry – our families, the poor and needy in our communities, serving others in love, taking care of orphans and widows – the entire ministry of Jesus Christ – a command given in James 1:27. This command is the evidence of correctly applying what II Timothy 2 described as what should be the outcome of our diligent study and workmanship.

 

The Solutions to the Causes of the Disease:

  1. We must ask ourselves a couple of questions:

The first question we must ask ourselves is – do we truly want to die to ourselves that we may live eternally? Do we mean it enough to stop doing what we have always done to be what we have been called to be? We must – if we truly want to be saved (Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 4:22-24, Colossians 3:5, Luke 9:23-24, John 12:24, I Peter 4:1-2, Galatians 5:24, Romans 8:12-13, Romans 6:8-14, John 3:30, Titus 2:12, Matthew 10:38, Galatians 6:14). Are we truly saved? When is our salvation complete?

  1. KNOW the WORD of God for yourself and study Scriptures within Their Context!!!

*** Spoiler Alert – When we try to separate the Scripture into a verse here or there to encourage ourselves to believe that we are ok – we are guilty of adding and/or taking away from the Word of God (Revelation 22:17-21).  You can’t base all of your belief on one Scripture – you must base your belief on the ENTIRE Word of God – and God expects you to spend ALL your heart, soul, and mind doing this. ***

The apostle Paul wrote to the evangelist Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The word ‘study’ means ‘strive, or be diligent.’ Being an approved workman involves much more than a simple morning devotion written by someone else or attending church services throughout the week. Paul wanted Timothy to understand that to be a workman that God could approve, he would have to be diligent in his service to God. To be a diligent and approved workman, we would have to correctly handle God’s Word by rightly dividing the Word of Truth – by correctly handling the Bible, through much study, contemplation, and prayer. Being an approved workman is the commanded goal that all of God’s children should have set before them on a continual basis.

We are commanded to grow in our faith; we are commanded to study to show ourselves approved; our ignorance of Scripture cannot be excuse; our lack of time to study cannot be our excuse. If this is the case – then we have allowed other things to take precedence in our lives over Jesus Christ’s work in us – this is defined as IDOLATRY. This is where ‘dying to self’ MUST BEGIN!

  1. Understand That Salvation is a Continual Process – Stop Taking Everybody Else’s Word for It and Study to Find Out For Yourself What It Means! Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13).

*** Spoiler Alert – ‘everybody ain’t going to heaven; Jesus said ‘many are called and few are chosen’; He also said that ‘narrow is the gate’ and that ‘many would stand before Him believing they were saved – only to be called evil workers of iniquity and demanded to ‘depart’ (Matthew 7:21-23). ***

I have wrestled with the idea of eternal security my entire life. Trust me, I wanted to embrace the ‘once saved always saved doctrine.’ But the Holy Spirit inside of me would never give me peace through that doctrine – as it doesn’t line up with God’s Word. As much as I want a one-time guarantee, the only guarantee I have found is in my faith expressed through my obedience to Jesus Christ.

Yes, we are born again by the grace of God through faith – as a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Yes, we do not do the works of God to gain personal favor with God. However, we must also understand that we are commanded to be doers of the Word (James 1:22). We must understand that we are known whose we are by the fruit we produce (Galatians 5). That fruit is produced by abiding in Christ (John 15).

Our works are evidence of our faith (James 2). Furthermore, we need to make sure we have truly interpreted the words – ‘grace,’ ‘faith,’ ‘saved,’ and ‘abide’ – according to Scripture. Biblically – the word ‘faith’ used over and over again throughout the New Testament is defined as ‘pistis’ – ‘trust with an implication that action must follow.’ Faith cannot be left to merely mean – ‘think.’ To leave Biblical faith at this definition is to sever ourselves from what makes us Spirit beings – our thoughts are subject to change, and must be monitored, sifted, and altered to the Word of God (II Corinthians 10:3-5, Philippians 4:8).

Biblically – the word ‘grace’ is defined as ‘charis’ – ‘the state of kindness and favor toward someone, often with a FOCUS on a benefit given to the object. The benefit spoken of here is the act of being ‘saved.’ Biblically, ‘saved’ is defined as ‘sozo’ – ‘to be in right relationship with God.’ However, this word cannot be severed without understanding its context and relationship to ALL of the other Scriptures which explain that ‘he who endures to the end will be saved’ because the word ‘saved’ in all those places means the SAME EXACT thing (Matthew 24:13, Matthew 10:22, Mark 13:13) – being ‘saved’ cannot be severed from ‘enduring to the end’ – nor can it be separated from ‘perfect love’ – nor can it be separated from ‘repentance’ (Hebrews 6:15, I Corinthians 13, Mark 4:17, Philippians 3, Acts 16, Romans 10, John 3, Matthew 10, Hebrews 3, Colossians 1, Titus 3:5, I John 5:1-5, Psalm 91, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 12:1, I Peter 4:1-2, Romans 6:14-16, Psalm 119:1-3, 133, John 6:44, Romans 2:4, James 2, I Thessalonians 1:3, II Thessalonians 1:11, II Thessalonians 2:1-3, Ephesians 4:27, Mark 11:22). Biblically – the word ‘endure’ is defined as ‘hypomeno’ – ‘to stay behind, to stand firm, to persevere, to take it patiently, to abode still, to suffer.’ Biblically, the word ‘abide’ is defined as ‘meno’ – ‘to stay, remain, dwell, to be in a state that begins and CONTINUES.’

Therefore, Biblical faith – is causing our minds to line up with God’s Word and walking in obedience to the Word of  God – Jesus (John 1), until the day we take our last breaths or Jesus returns (II Timothy 2:19, Matthew 23:25, Luke 6:46, I John 1:9, Romans 12:1-2, John 7:17, II Corinthians 7:1, James 1:12, I Corinthians 15:58, Hebrews 10:36, Mark 13:13, Ephesians 6:10-17, II Timothy 4:7, Hebrews 12:1-3).  The transformation that happens through this process is what makes us salt and light to the dark world around us. The outward manifestation of this process is what encourages fellow Believers – this is our testimony. We cannot base our salvation upon a prayer we prayed as a child- as much as we would like a ‘one size fits all’ guarantee, salvation, by Biblical definition based upon the WHOLE Word of God, involves the full package – faith, grace, belief, endurance, repentance, fruit!!!

  1. Let the Scriptures Instruct, Reprove, and Correct Us as They Are Meant to Do!!!

*** Spoiler Alert – The Word of God is not meant to be a band-aid that covers our boo-boos or make us ‘feel better!’ ***

Many of us look for a verse here or a verse there that might make us feel better about our situation. We read it, perhaps even memorize it – but we don’t study them in context to understand the true meaning of it. We look for something that encourages our flesh – not something that feeds our Spirit man. We go as far as to misinterpret encourage as to mean – ‘to feel good’ – yet, Scripturally ignoring that the true meaning of ‘encourage’ is defined as ‘to strengthen, to make repairs, to urge to take hold of.’ In II Timothy 2, Paul reveals the purposes of Scripture, which many of us fail to recognize, clearly interpret, or fully seem like we want to acknowledge. All Scripture is given to us for four reasons: for doctrine, for reproof (‘certainty, evidence, rebuke’), for correction (‘to straighten up, getting it right again’), and for instruction in righteousness. It is given to us to spur us into a constant process of studying God’s Word and responding to what we have read with repentance and service to others.

  1. BE THE BODY OF CHRIST!

Do we feel too alone and unequipped to endeavor the process?

*** Spoiler Alert – In order for the Church Body to grow and you to grow strong within the Church Body, you must participate. If you believe that your personal life and choices are not the business of the other members of the Body of Christ – then you are WRONG! ***

Every person is an important part of the Body of Christ. We cannot function without all the parts (I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 2:19-22, Ephesians 4:11-25, Ephesians 5:19-20).

The thing that hinders this is “self” – self-preservation, self-promotion, and other self-related things, which have become more important to us and have torn down the things God would have us to be doing. The things that keep us from functioning properly are the things we allow in our lives. It is all a choice.

Do we choose pride and resort to self-preservation and self-promotion or do we choose humility and self-disclosure?

Do we choose to make excuses for ourselves out of fear or do we step out in faith and allow God to use our lives as a testimony of His resurrection power?

Do we let grace stop at the cross or do we allow grace to perfect itself within us?

Do we choose to wander around the desert like the Israelites for 40 years – relying on Moses to do all the work or do we subject ourselves to obedience to Christ and take on the business of being the Body of Christ?

I Peter 2:9 says to us, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”   This is not something we can allow someone to do for us, and then is not something we can do alone or apart from the Body of Christ.

How many of us expect our pastor to hear from God for us, instead of listening to God ourselves?

How many of us are comfortable playing church instead of being the Church?

We have been designed by God to interact with members of the Body, so that we might edify and encourage one another. God gives each of us a portion of faith and imparts within us gifts to be used for His glorification. We are meant to be sharing our faith and our gifts with the Body. We cannot choose to remain in our comfort zones and allow ourselves to be spoon-fed. We cannot continue to choose the easy path in order to protect ourselves from being hurt by imperfect people. Many of us are playing church and wearing masks because we have been wounded and mistreated by others. But this is no excuse. The enemy has used our hurts and pride as tactics to cause the Body of Christ to be in division and alienated from one another. It is time to rise up and be the Body of Christ and allow others to do the same (Romans 12:1-8).

 

The Remedy to the Disease – Be the Church!

How do we start?

John 15:1-2 says, “”I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Purging is also known as pruning. When you prune a plant, you cut back the branches so that new fruit can grow. It is a process that God does within us, and it hurts. However, it is the kind of pain that produces healing within our Spirit man. It involves giving up the things that we hold more important than God and the things that contradict God’s nature.

It is a choice, but it is a choice we cannot afford to avoid. The Body of Christ depends upon us to allow the process of pruning to take place.  Since we are members of the Body of Christ, we are branches on the Vine of Jesus Christ. If we as branches, don’t do our necessary jobs, we are purged so that new growth can take place. I’m not exactly sure if being cut off from the Vine means we lose our salvation, but from my study of the Scripture as a whole, I can only believe, at this point, that a dead branch is just that – a dead branch. I don’t know about you, but I am not willing to take a chance on losing my eternal security – I believe that my spiritual life depends on my abiding in Christ until the end – whether it be my last breath or Christ’s return.

So what does all of this mean? How does the Body of Christ work together to edify and encourage one another?

When a part of your body is harmed or hurt in some way, your entire body becomes involved in the process of healing. The Body of Christ is supposed to function in the same manner. When a part of the Body is hurting, the rest of the Body is to make itself available to help however we can.

Prayer is certainly the most important thing we can do.  But how many of us tell one another – “I’ll pray for you” – but we treat it with the same importance as we do when insincerely ask people “how are you” while we walk past them without sincerely listening to their response? The Bible tells us many times to pray without ceasing. Are we doing that? Are we truly interceding on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ? Is it possible that people’s lives are not being changed because we are not truly praying for them like we should? It is the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man that availeth much”(James 5:16). Are we praying effectively? Are we living in the righteousness of Jesus Christ?

With that being said, it is important to remember that praying is not the only thing we are commanded to do as the Body of Christ. We are also commanded to, “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Now with that being said, in consideration of everything else I have said, it is time for us to consider how we are meant to stir one another to good works.

Part of the problem is that we replace the word love with tolerance. We tolerate one another’s sins rather than loving one another. We misinterpret Scripture and take it out of context to fit our comfort levels rather than truly asking God for wisdom regarding the passage. In our hopeless effort to protect our pride and continue wearing our masks, we tell everyone to mind their own business and stop judging us, and we forego the true meanings of long-suffering, patience, meekness – perfect love. We short change ourselves and the Body of Christ by sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring bad fruit – like it will go away by itself. We hide from “being judged” by ignoring one another’s sins altogether. We avoid correcting sin, calling it what it truly is – we avoid rebuke, reproof, and correction, which the Word of God commands us to do (Matthew 18:15-18, I Corinthians 5:1-13, Galatians 6:1-2, James 5:19-20, Leviticus 19:17, II Thessalonians 3:6-14, Colossians 3:16, I Thessalonians 5:14, Proverbs 10).

Perfect love cannot be separated from warning one another when we are in sin! It is God’s job to judge the world; it is our duty to correct and admonish one another in meekness and love – not hypocrisy and pride (I Corinthians 5:12-13). So many people have taken Matthew 7 out of context entirely because we want to protect ourselves, and keep a hold of those secret things that we don’t want to give up. Read Matthew 7 in its entirety – and when you’re done, make sure you read Galatians 6:1-18. The point of Matthew 7 is to drive home the importance of keeping our lives right with God, so we can help others do the same! Hypocritical, unrighteous judgment is a result of hidden sins within our own lives that we fail to deal with while pointing the finger at someone else. That is unrighteous judgment. However, the Scripture commands us to lovingly and patiently hold one another accountable, rebuke sin when it is evident, and exhort one another to good works (II Timothy 4:2, Hebrews 10:24-25). How can we watch our brothers and sisters do something that is harming their fellowship with Jesus and with the Body of Christ and not say anything?

I would have to contend that the real problem is the great maturity in Christ we must have in order to practice meekness, kindness, patience, and long suffering – while also living our lives in such a way that we are dead to our own sinful flesh, so we can truly get to the job of helping one another identify and overcome the obstacles of our faith that we might become fruit-bearing branches.

It takes a lot less effort to criticize, to cause division, to gossip amongst ourselves, and to play church. It takes a lot less effort to keep our masks on and hide behind the faults of someone else rather than becoming part of one another’s journeys and bearing one another’s burdens. We dare not confess our sins to one another (James 5:16) because our pride might be wounded! We dare not reprove (to expose or confront), rebuke (to criticize sharply, admonish, or reprimand), or exhort (to call to one’s side, to motivate, to encourage) one another because we don’t want anyone to do the same to us! It takes a lot less effort to just pat one another on the backs and go about our same routines.

Spiritual Gluttony and/or Anorexia is a disease that cannot be remedied by itself in my opinion. We need one another. Will you help me? Let’s get on with the task of Jesus’ two greatest commandments – Matthew 22:36-40, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself” – enough to be who we were created to be and exhort one another to do the same!

 

 

Jesus Didn’t Just Die to Save Us From Hell

 

 

Revelation 5 – 11/20/2015 – 9:56 am

 

Funny – I read a quote today from Leonard Ravenhill that stirred me to think about what I have felt like many times on my Christian journey – “Many pastors criticize me for taking the Gospel so seriously. But do they really think that on Judgment Day, Christ will chastise me, saying, ‘Leonard, you took Me too seriously’?”

 

I have said something similar to my husband many times over the past several years….so many people act like it is a sin to constantly want to discuss God’s Word – to constantly allow the Bible to filter everything we do. I often hear the excuses – “God wants us to be ‘happy,’ ” “God doesn’t care about our entertainment.” “We aren’t expected to think and talk about Him all day long.” “God doesn’t care how we spend our free time.” But then when they don’t see the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they blame God – they question His ability – they wonder where He is!

 

I don’t know about you, but I want ALL He has to offer! I want His COMPLETE work in me! I want Him to find me faithful and alert! Why does that desire instead cause people to accuse me of being self-righteous? Why instead don’t we want to sharpen one another as brothers and sisters in Christ and stir one another to good works?

 

If the way I run my race happens to stir you to consider what you really believe – then good – that is what we are supposed to do to one another! If the way I look at evil and refuse to play with the enemy stirs you to want to take your race seriously – good – that is what the Body of Christ is commanded to do! If my convictions cause you to feel convicted – good – that is what salt and light are supposed to do! If my Facebook posts irritate you because they don’t make you ‘feel’ good – then delete me – because I am not looking to ‘feel’ good – that’s what drugs, alcohol, medication, television, sports, and all that other stuff is for. I spent most of my life filling my appetite with those things, and they left me EMPTY and BARREN!

 

I am looking to grow in Christ; I am looking for something different than what I have always known, and I am headed to a place I have never been! When you have been where I have been and almost died in the pig pen, maybe you will then understand why I take things so seriously. We are called to speak the same Message to different people. The people God has called me to encourage probably don’t come from the same walk of life as you. They need more than religion. They need a lifeboat!

 

As someone who struggled with drug addiction, lying, perversion, and all sorts of other evil for over 20 years of my life – I can’t afford to not take my salvation seriously. I have wasted enough time sitting on the fence and being lukewarm and religious. God didn’t give His Son, Jesus Christ, to just rescue me from hell! God raised His Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead, so He could live in and through me, and be glorified by His transformation of my life and manifestation in my life!

 

Interesting thought – how many brides have you seen not excited about their weddings? How many brides have you seen not concerned with a blemish or spot on their dresses? How many brides have you seen flirting with other men as they walk up the aisles? How many brides have you seen that don’t bathe before they put on their dresses to meet their groomes? Yet, this is often the condition we find The Bride of Christ as a whole. I don’t know about you, but I have a wedding to prepare for – anybody want to join me as I prepare?

 

God wants to awaken His people. Isaiah 52:1-2 says, “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” And Ephesians 4:14-17 says, “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”

 

Read that again – WE MUST SHAKE OURSELVES! WE MUST AWAKEN OURSELVES! Turn off your televisions; silence the world; let’s be about the Lord’s work – there is a dying world all around us, and it is time for the Body of Christ to be The Church! I challenge you to find a Scripture below that tells us to do otherwise! Jesus wouldn’t be sitting around in 2015 chillin’ with His feet up! I invite my family in Christ to engage conversation regarding any of the Scriptures I have attached below!

 

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

 

There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. John 12:48

 

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Romans 12:1-3

 

Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; I Peter 2:1-11

 

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. Mark 12:30

 

And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways. And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee. And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Deuteronomy 28:1-15

 

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9

 

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14

 

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:7-9

 

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

 

Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? if any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s. For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters. For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present. For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ: Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men’s labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s line of things made ready to our hand. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth. II Corinthians 10

 

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Philippians 4:4-9

 

We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. II Corinthians 6

 

Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. I Timothy 6

 

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24

 

And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. I Corinthians 9:23-27

 

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:1-10

 

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; Hebrews 3:12-14

 

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4

 

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. I John 3

John 15 – Chewing on The Vine

 

I have been memorizing John 15 for the past week, and God has been revealing Himself to me as I have chewed upon each verse. I thought it would be good to share some of the revelations He has given me concerning this paritcular chapter of Scripture:

Revelation 1 – 11/215 –  12:39pm – John 15:1-4

New revelation for me today – abiding in the vine = dwelling in a place of obedience to God’s Word when the enemy sends a strong wind from hell to blow us off the vine; staying fixed and settled in a place of obedience to God’s Word, so He can grow the necessary fruit for that season of our lives. IE – Fruit doesn’t grow without opposition, so EXPECT strong winds from the enemy of our souls. Do not grow weary or feel forsaken. God only gives the enemy so much room to work in our lives. We are safe under God’s Word. John 15 is what I am working on committing to memory right now – good stuff…not easy to activate in our lives – it isn’t supposed to be. God is not interested in easy races; He is interested in growing and perfecting our faith, which only comes through testing and trials. Fight the good fight, and run towards the prize we have in Christ Children of God!!!

John 15:1-4, “I am the vine, and My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit, He taketh away. Every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth that it may bring forth more fruit. You are made clean through the Word that I have spoken. Abide in Me and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except that it abide in the vine – no mare can ye except that ye abide in Me.”

Revelation 2 – 11/4/15 – 11:42 AM – John 15:1-9

God answers all prayers, which are prayed according to His will

God’s will is for Him to be glorified in our lives.

He is glorified when we grow fruit. In order to grow fruit, we must endure the opposite situation that causes the related fruit to grow – meaning – we must ENDURE situations that test us in the area where the fruit is…

EXAMPLES:

– love – hate

– joy – misery

– peace – distress

– forbearance – impatience

– kindness – callousness

– goodness – wickedness

– faithfulness – disloyalty

– gentleness – harshness

– self-control – unrestraint

Fruit is grown by staying fixed upon the vine.

Jesus is the vine. Jesus is the Word made flesh. Abiding in Jesus = staying/remaining in His Word by doing what it says.

God loves us. He wants us to remain in His love. His love IS His Word.

Whom the Father loves, He disciplines – thus His Word MUST BE a mirror into our hearts. By reading His Word, It must be the judge of our lives – It must reveal the intent of our hearts. We must react to what we find = allow It to discipline our lives = act according to what We read.

God is not looking us to rescue us FROM situations, but to be glorified THROUGH our situations. He who ENDURES to the END shall be SAVED!

– Not from the flood – but during the flood

– Not from the Red Sea – but through the Red Sea

– Not from the fire – but in the fire
– Not from the lion’s den – but in the lion’s den

– Not from the storm – but in the storm

– Not from the cross – but through the cross

– Not grace to sin – but grace to overcome sin through Jesus Christ – The Word of God made flesh

John 15:1-9 :”I am the True Vine, and my Father is the Husbandman. Any branch in me that beareth not fruit, He taketh away. And every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are made clean through the Word I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except that it abide on the vine, no more can ye except that ye abide in Me. I am the Vine, and You are the branches. As ye abide in Me, and I abide in you – the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without Me ye can do nothing. Every man that abideth not in Me is cast forth as a branch and withereth. Men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they burn. If ye abide in Me, and My Words abide in ye, ask what ye will, and It shall be done unto you. Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so ye be My disciples. As My Father have loved me, so have I loved you. Continue ye in My Love.”

I found the following article below online – very helpful information to consider when examining “fruit-production” in one’s life:

– LOVE: Joyfully serving another for their good, not to get something in return.

Opposite: Fear leading to self-protection resulting in the harm of others.

Counterfeit: Affection shown to others for selfish reasons. Attraction to others for how they make you feel. Helping                others to feel good about yourself.

– JOY: Delighting in the beauty of God and the salvation he gives us in Christ even in difficult times of loss, disappointment, and pain.

Opposite: Despair and a lack of or fear of hope.

Counterfeit: Excitement and happiness that exists only when things are good leading to mood swings. Happiness                  not in God but in what he brings.

– PEACE: Confident assurance that God is for us, that he is wise, and that he is in control rather than trust in ourselves.

Opposite: Worry and anxiety.

Counterfeit: Apathy that does not grieve over the difficulty.

– PATIENCE: Suffering joyfully and not becoming angry at God when his timing doesn’t match our own.

Opposite: Bitterness and resentment toward God that manifests itself in agitation or outright expressions of anger                with others.

Counterfeit: Self-righteous cynicism that pretends concern is unspiritual.

– KINDNESS: Sincere vulnerability that involves empathy, compassion, and help.

Opposite: The inability to rejoice in the good happening to others.

Counterfeit: Helping others in an attempt to control other people marked by promotion of self and pride.

– GOODNESS: Honesty, openness, and consistency in all contexts of life.

Opposite: Hypocrisy, phoniness, and insincerity.

Counterfeit: Being honest in an insensitive way without love. Insincerity that pretends to be sincere.

– FAITHFULNESS: Loyalty, reliability, and courage based on convictions and not on practical benefit leading to loving

confrontation when it is right.

Opposite: Opportunistic living that swings from committed to absent.

Counterfeit: Being ‘loving’ without any concern for truth. Being loyal out of self-righteous pride leading to an                          unwillingness to address wrongs.

– GENTLENESS: Not thinking of yourself highly so that you are sensitive to the needs of others.

Opposite: Thinking you are superior leading to self-absorption and self-promotion that crushes others.

Counterfeit: Insecurity that is self-absorbed so that words of self-deprecation are said so that others affirm us.

– SELF-CONTROL: Staying focused on the important things rather than what is urgent.

Opposite: Impulsive living in the moment.

Counterfeit: Using willpower to stay disciplined resulting in pride over your accomplishment.

bffrevloc.org

Revelation 3 – 11/6/15 – 12:04 PM – John 15:1-12

While working on memorizing the next few verses of John 15 today, I began to chew upon a few of the words in this passage – the subordinate conjunctions – “if” and “as” and the word “love.” Bear with me a moment, I was an English teacher, so I think about the little words too because they have MAJOR functions!

I understand that a subordinate conjunction is a word that attaches a subordinate clause to a sentence. This clause CANNOT stand on its own, and it DEPENDS on the rest of the sentence for its meaning. The clause can serve as an adjective or as an adverb clause. In this particular passage of John 15, it grammatically functions as an adverb conjunction – giving the conditions for and to – ‘abiding in the Vine’ (Jesus Christ – His Word) and the promises that come as a result – “bearing much fruit.”

I think God is very intentional with His Words – He knows grammar better than we do – I think He was very intentional with the words “if.”

Many of us want guarantees as a Christian. We want the benefits of Jesus Christ, but we are not truly willing to submit to His conditions. I am not talking about works – I am talking about active faith – active belief – which involves actions that reflect our faith. The Word of God clearly teaches that the two cannot be separated. Paul makes it clear, that we do BECAUSE we believe – and what we do REFLECTS what we believe. (Romans 6-11). Thus – God uses “if” – allowing the Believer to understand that “this is the proof of what you believe, IF you truly do it.” The word “if” here comes from the Greek word “ei” – meaning “except, unless.” The word “faith” throughout the New Testament comes from the Greek word “pistis” meaning “belief and trust with an implication that action based on trust must follow.”

Also, James 2:16-26 further explains what faith really means. James explains that even the demons believe and tremble. What separates the demons from the Believer? What we do with our belief! The word ‘believe’ comes from the Greek word “pisteuo,” meaning “to put one’s trust, with an implication that actions based on that trust must follow.”

Meaning, the only guarantee of our salvation is based on our active belief – reflected by producing fruit by abiding in the Word. The Scripture makes clear upon further study, that the phrase “abide in Christ” means “to follow His example of a life obedient to the will of God.” Since the word “abide” comes from the Greek word “meno” – meaning “to be in a state that begins AND continues, yet may or may not stop.” This tells me there are some conditions.

Now, everybody who knows me, knows I am FAR FAR from already measuring up to Christ – in any manner. What’s important to ask one’s self – “am I actively walking in obedience to God’s Word? Am I knowingly walking in willful and constant disobedience?”

For many years, I said one thing, but my actions reflected something else. I lived in constant condemnation because I lived in constant WILLFUL disobedience. The confidence I have now is IN Jesus Christ, THROUGH His grace, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach me how to ABIDE IN the Word of God – Jesus!!!

How do I know what tree I belong to? By the FRUIT I produce. (It would be helpful here to study what a GMO is – a genetically modified organism – an organism that’s DNA has been altered in way that it does not grow naturally. Further study will explain why the produce you pick up from a local grocery store is ten times bigger than what you grow in your garden, why it does not rot naturally, and why it seems to have lost its flavor and zeal – which is an entirely other study for a different day.) But I mention that to mention this:

Salvation involves confession and belief. Look those words up in your concordance. They both require action!

This is important children of God! For God said that there will be MANY that would stand before Him and say, “Lord, Lord.” But Jesus will respond, “I know you not.” You can’t tell me that these people aren’t going to truly believe themselves. I mean, they stand before the KING of KINGS and start listing all their “GMO fruit.” Jesus’ response? “Depart…I never knew thee…you workers of iniquity…whosoever hears these sayings of mine and DOES them…I will like unto a wise man” (Matthew 7). Jesus is looking for the REAL fruit – not the kind that grows unnaturally.

So what does that mean?

The next conjunction is “as,” which suggests similitude. Meaning – if we are truly God’s children, than we are commanded to be “as Christ” – similar to His nature and character. The Scripture in John 15 even goes a step further to be more intentional by saying that IF we do not abide in Christ, we are cast forth as a branch and burned. God wants His children to be AS His Son, by this – we know Whom we belong to – “IF ye keep My Commandments, ye shall abide in My Love.

That got me to thinking about what Jesus means here when He says “My Love.” So many are perverting this word today. It is diluted by many people today as some sort of ooey gooey love that tolerates and overlooks sin as not to stir one another or hold one another accountable. Well, upon further study of the phrase “My Love” – the Greek word for love here is “agapao,” meaning – “the active love of God for His Son and His people, and the active love of His people are to have for God, each other, and even enemies.”

Well what does the Father’s love entail? A further study of Hebrews 12:6-11, you can find the same Greek word “agapao,” as Paul declares, that who the Father loves, He disciplines. That doesn’t sound fun? And the Bible confirms that it isn’t, but you go on to find that although it does not feel good at the time, it goes on to produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised by it. Meaning, God doesn’t overlook our sin – He uses His Word as a mirror into our lives, while He uses our circumstances to test and try our hearts – to show us what is REALLY in it – thus expecting us to then submit to His Word and allow it to transform our lives (Romans 12:1-2).

So what does that mean when it comes to loving one another, after all, John 15:12 commands us to love one another?

Well, that’s where it gets sticky. The KJV of I Corinthians 13 uses the word “charity” – the Greek word is still “agapao.” Upon studying I Corinthians 13, we find an in-depth picture of what that love looks like – a list of actions we are to DO to one another, which are all based upon the FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT.

Friends, I don’t like to be judged…but please don’t overlook my sin – call it what it is – love me the way God loves me – hold me accountable – correct me when I am in error – just do so lovingly, gently, patiently, and unselfishly. I am not looking for ooey gooey love – I am looking for iron that sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).

We must stop taking Scriptures out of context to justify our points…we must put the Scriptures in Their context, so they can interpret Themselves. We can’t pick apart God’s Word to find all the promises we want to claim for our lives without reading and considering all the conjunctions – the “ifs, and hereins, and therefores.”

God isn’t Santa Claus. He is The Almighty El Shaddai. He loves us – beyond our wildest imagination – and it would do us all some good to let that love be what prods us to study the Word of God and let It serve Its purposes in us – for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16).

Salvation has no short cuts. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to just slide into Heaven for eternal life only. I want to stand before Jesus Christ, My Lord and Savior, and hear “faithful and well done.” Therefore, we should all study to show ourselves approved (II Timothy 2:15), work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), stop nursing on the bottle and begin chewing on the meat of God’s Word (Hebrews 5:11-14), and stand firm to the END – because that is the only guarantee of salvation (Matthew 24:13)!

John 15:1-12: “I am the True Vine and My Father is the Husbandmen. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He taketh away, and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are made clean through the Word that I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. ‘As’ a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except that it abide on The Vine – no more can ye except that ye abide on Me. I am the Vine, and Ye are the branches. Abide in me, and I in you – the same bringeth forth much fruit – for without Me, ye can do nothing. ‘If’ a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch and withereth. Men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. ‘If’ ye abide in Me, and My Words abide in you – ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is My Father glorified – that ye bear much fruit, so ye be My disciples. As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you. Continue ye in My Love. ‘If’ ye shall keep My Commandments, ye shall abide in My Love, as I have kept My Father’s Commandments and abide in His love. These things have I spoken unto you that you might remain in My Joy, and that your Joy may be full. This is My Commandment, that ye Love one another, ‘as’ I have loved you.”

James 2:17-26: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Matthew 7:15-29: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

John 1:1, 14: ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Hebrews 12:6-11: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Hebrews 5:11-14: “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

Come OUT of This World

For the Glory of My King Jesus

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Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what GOD’S will is – HIS good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

 

Everything about the world that we see with our natural eyes is intentionally meant to attract us to the world and and teach us to conform to it. Advertising companies spend millions of dollars on commercials aimed at drawing audiences into stores to buy their newest products, based on the premise that if we use them – we will be just like the people we see in the commercials. Even the movies we watch are meant to condition us to dress, talk, and act a certain way – do whatever it takes to look, act, and feel just like the stars in Hollywood. Consumerism thrives on…

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The Sacrifice of a Contrite Heart

For the Glory of My King Jesus

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The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit – a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Psalms 51:17

How ashamed King David must have felt once he had realized the magnitude of the sin he had committed with Bathsheba. He was a man after GOD’S very heart; yet, he had hands guilty for adultery and innocent bloodshed. There are countless examples of episodes of corruption, human nature, and sin throughout David’s life – from the shepherd boy who slayed Goliath and on throughout his reign as king. However, in Psalms 51, David releases a prayer of repentance, and within verse 17, the reader can find one of the most intimate passages that reveal a pathway to GOD’s heart. To know that this Psalm was written before the birth of CHRIST – before the plan of salvation based on THE ONE TRUE SACRIFCE – makes IT…

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Words Sticky Enough To Cling To The Soul

For the Glory of My King Jesus

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Kind words are like honey; sweet to the body and healthy for the soul.” Proverbs 16:24

When I was a child, I often remember quietly reciting, “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Usually, it was after I had received a tongue beating from one of numerous kids that would tease and bully me throughout my adolescent years and on through high school. Even in college, I remember chanting it while closing my eyes really hard…as if both together would make the words magically stop and vanish the imprint that had been made on my heart – band-aid the slice mark it had just made across my mind. But, no matter how many times I said that little riddle, no matter how hard I clenched my eyes closed, the words of the riddle were never as loud or as effective as the words…

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How Deep is God’s Love For Us?

For the Glory of My King Jesus

I pray that you may know how wide, and long, and high, and deep is the love of CHRIST.” Ephesians 3:18-19 

breadth” or “width” – all encompassing

length” – eternal

depth” – JESUS went to the grave

height” – JESUS sits at the FATHER’S right hand

 

Paul desires for us – complete spiritual maturity and three spiritual gifts:

  1. power to comprehend the incomprehensible dimensions of GOD

  2. to know and be known by the LOVE of CHRIST, which surpasses knowledge

  3. filled with GOD’S FULLNESS

Application:

I can’t imagine a love more deep and more profound than the love I have for my daughter. I don’t think a real unselfish bone in my body existed before her – as ashamed as I might be to have to admit it. Since her birth, it seems as if I’ve spent every moment consumed with my desire to…

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Taking A Load Off…

For the Glory of My King Jesus

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“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28

 

            “Come to me…” How often am I guilty of going to everything else before approaching God’s throne first? Typically, I find myself trying to work situations out in my own strength, finding solutions to my problems in my own wisdom, and seeking solace in everything else but the arms of The Almighty God – who is the only One who can truly provide rest for my soul and give my body relief from its burdens. I’d like to think that I apply this Scripture better to my spiritual life today than I did ten years ago; nevertheless, I often find myself anxious and burdened without quickly relinquishing it to God at the very onset of the problem. I wonder how often…

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You Can’t Win the Lost Without the Agape Love of Jesus Christ

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“Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together.” Colossians 3:14

I would like to consider myself a person that doesn’t fail at many things, but after taking inventory of my life, I realized that I have failed many times when it came to loving people as GOD expected me to. The older I get, the more I come to realize that agape love is easier received than given. I find it easy to give away almost anything, but unconditional love to someone who doesn’t give a rip about me? That is something totally different!

A few years ago, I was at the peak of what I considered to be Christian service and leadership. I found myself surrounded by a lot of people who recognized me for my spiritual gifts and applauded me as I felt I deserved. I had a lot of friends, and I was seen as a fairly loving person – until I got my feelings hurt. Over and over again, I would encounter situations where GOD would ask me to do nothing more than just love completely, and I couldn’t because of some injustice I felt had been done to me. Love was easily given when earned, but it was scarce to find when I was hurt. Usually, I found myself dependent instead, during these times, on my spiritual gifts – hoping that what I could do for people would make up for the love I was unable to express to them the way GOD was asking me to at the time. At that point in my life, I hadn’t realized that my gifts were not earning brownie points with MY SAVIOUR. I thought I was fooling HIM too. I honestly believed that serving to serve was enough – despite how I really felt about people within the corridors of my heart. Needless to say, not many of those relationships survived.

Sitting in my apartment every day now, especially on those days where I am lonely and wish to share my heart with someone – I realize that my gifts got me nowhere. Those people needed to be shown the agape love of GOD – not what I could do. Now, able to appreciate and understand Colossians 3:14, I am unable to get depressed or loathe myself – for I have realized that I cannot give away something I haven’t fully grasped for myself. GOD has a way of shaking our lives sometimes – to put us in a place where the world remains safe from us and we remain safe from it. I am learning that I am indeed spiritually gifted, but I cannot be a gift without fully understanding agape love. Whereas what I can “do” for someone only makes a temporary change in their lives – showing them real agape love is more important than anything else. It makes an eternal imprint and holds everything else together!

How can I go around calling myself the child of THE KING

when I go around hating people and complaining about everything?

How can I claim to be walking anything like Christ

when I can’t stand my neighbors’ children, and I’m always causing strife?

How can I get down upon my knees and for HIS face then seek

when I’m fighting with my enemies instead of spreading GOD’S peace?

How can a church be full on every corner of the street,

yet ignore or abuse everyone we meet?

How can we even begin to claim we are acting like THE SON

when we go around like a monster getting mad at everyone?

We can boast about being Christians all day and every night,

but if we don’t learn how to walk in love, we’ll never get it right.

More important than anything we can ever say or do

is spreading GOD’S true love just like HE did for you.

Without THE SAVIOUR’S love, everything GOD did would just be in vain –

for GOD is all about HIS love; it is HIS very name.

Don’t call yourself a Christian if you’re not willing to pay the cost

of loving those who don’t deserve it – to see HIM save the lost.

There’s nothing more important than sharing love THE FATHER has;

it’s what ties it all together and keeps THE FATHER glad.

 “HE will cover you with HIS feathers, under

HE will cover you with HIS feathers, under HIS wings you will find refuge. HIS faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalms 91:4

 I remember like it was yesterday, the first time I encountered this VERSE…I was in tenth grade and on my way to play in my first and only powder puff football game. I was beyond afraid, and my stomach did cartwheels as my father got closer to the stadium. The week previous had been spent practicing every afternoon once I was finished with school.Practices were always dreaded – since the very first practice, after I found myself lying on the ground, face-up, with one of the biggest bullies in school drooling over me. There were at least a half-dozen girls on the opposing team, who had despised me and had made torturing me their long-term high school objective. Each practice the week before, I found myself scooting further down the scrimmage line, hoping to come across a more friendly opponent. At the end of each practice, there was always one faithful bully awaiting me in the parking lot to taunt me about my upcoming fate on game night.

I remember trying to stuff down last minute homemade toilet paper pillows in my pants, my undergarments…hoping each piece would provide some sort of cushion on the football field. My father sensed my fear and recited Psalms 91:4. “Joyelle, GOD says HE will cover you with HIS feathers and HIS wings will be your refuge…”

I can’t remember anything else that he had said. All at once, my spirit grabbed on to that VERSE with everything it had. I repeated it over and over as we approached the football field. I can’t recall anything else about that night. I know I didn’t suffer from any bruises or broken bones. The only thing that really sticks out about that night is the overwhelming encouragement I found in Psalms 91:4. I have gone on for more than twenty-five years, meditating upon that VERSE when I become anxious or worried. After thirty-seven years of living in and out of the storms of life, I have come to depend on HIS wings to protect me and HIS faithfulness to keep me.

Affliction in life is certain for sure;

the winds of this life will blow.

They’ll try to destroy every evidence of faithfulness

and make us doubt everything that we know.

The enemy will send tornadoes our way,

hoping to mar us with the rain.

When the wind can’t destroy us, and he feels he might fail,

he resorts to his torment and pain.

His job is to try and make the Believer

doubt GOD because of bad weather,

instead of him finding out that GOD’S already protected him

under the shelter of HIS feathers.

When trust is in GOD, there is no reason to fear.

There is nothing the enemy can do.

For GOD’S wings are protecting us wherever we go,

whatever storms we may go through.

HIS faithfulness will shield us from the enemy’s arrows –

the Believer who trusts GOD with all of his heart.

HE will protect us from all the enemy’s wiles

and be our FAITHFUL RAMPART.

Taking A Load Off…

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“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28

 

            “Come to me…” How often am I guilty of going to everything else before approaching God’s throne first? Typically, I find myself trying to work situations out in my own strength, finding solutions to my problems in my own wisdom, and seeking solace in everything else but the arms of The Almighty God – who is the only One who can truly provide rest for my soul and give my body relief from its burdens. I’d like to think that I apply this Scripture better to my spiritual life today than I did ten years ago; nevertheless, I often find myself anxious and burdened without quickly relinquishing it to God at the very onset of the problem. I wonder how often I actually make my situation worse in my intent to help things….I wonder how much more complicated I am really making things each time I foolishly take matters into my own hands first – only later to give the leftovers and the consequences to God – hoping He can remedy the situation….

            Jesus conquered death so we could conquer life. We were not made to deal with life by our own merits and abilities. Trying only increases our burdens and prolongs our rest.

 

 I’ve just been with an attack –

that is bigger than my heart knows how to bear.

I’m having trouble catching my breath,

feeling punched in the gut – I need a chair

 

to sit in God’s presence and relinquish all the hurt,

from the enemy’s lies and all of his nasty dirt

 

he keeps spreading on me –

trying to make me look like a foolish clown.

When all else he has tried has failed,

causing my heart to feel all down.

 

But this time it will be different because now I have learned

that these are the times when my Saviour does yearn

 

for me to unload all the hurt and all the strife –

leaving it in His hands so He can change my life.

 

God did not mean for me to try

and carry the weight all by myself.

He is perfectly able to play the cards

the enemy has dealt.

 

He’s promised to pilot this plane – give me the rest –

if I will only trust in Him, putting His strength to the test.

 

His yoke is easier that the one I have chosen to bear –

instead of holding on to it now –

I understand that is why He’s there!

 

 

He Satisfies Me

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“Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love that we may sing for joy and be glad all of our days.” Psalms 90:14

            If you have ever tasted pure, ice-cold, natural spring water – you would agree – there is nothing that can ever compare to it nor begin to quench your thirst as it can. It ruins one who later finds themselves instead returning to the recycled tap or artificial stuff bought in a plastic bottle. Makes you kind of wish you had never tasted the good stuff to begin with!

GOD’S LOVE is refreshing like that natural spring water, but where the water runs dry – GOD’S LOVE never does. And once tasted, IT leaves such an enormous imprint on the spiritual taste-buds of your soul, leaving you forever changed, never able to forget THE EXPERIENCE. When we have allowed ourselves to become dependent on GOD first thing in our day, our day has a natural way of filtering out the rest of the junk because of GOD’S PRESENCE. Our body was made with a GOD-SHAPED pitcher that is meant to rely on GOD and GOD ALONE to fill it. It is the absolute thing our spiritual bodies need more than our natural bodies need water. We were designed to live on the constant flow of GOD’S LOVE.

Too often, I find myself starting my day drinking on my anxieties, my hobbies, my children, the news – before I know it, the temporary satisfaction and happiness have worn off. The very person who was getting a thrill from all of it – is now instead, frustrated, with an emptiness that resulted from giving out of my lack, rather than my overflow. The days that are notably different begin with an awesome sense and understanding of WHO MY FATHER IS – from the very second my feet hit the floor – and allowing HIM to constantly refill my need for HIM throughout the day for HIM and HIM ALONE.

My head lifts from the pillow,

and my feet hit the floor.

I can barely open up my eyes,

and I almost hit the door.

My attitude has been at rest all throughout the night;

My spirit man’s still tired from yesterday’s long fight.

My emotions are still awakening,

leaving me yet a little numb.

My words are just awaiting to fall off

the very tip of my tongue.

All of my physical senses

have not reached their full alert –

I’m tired, burdened,

and my heart is still a little hurt

from all the things that piled up on me

while my mind was somewhere else –

for taking care of everyone

but only neglecting myself.

But, today, something’s different; although, my body feels the same.

There is this joy and gladness in my heart that it cannot contain.

I’m practically overflowing from the gladness and love within my heart.

I have been delighting in the Lord, and HE has done HIS part.

My heart is still on full, though –

everything else feels bare.

When my heart is completely emptied –

I know that ABBA IS still there.

It’s when I’m broken and spilled out that HIS love begins to shine,

changing everything around it – even lives like mine!

HE satisfies my every longing from the greatest to the least;

there is not a need that cannot be met by falling on my knees.

I cannot help but to be glad; I’m a Child of THE KING.

My heart overflows with joy, and my lips can’t help but sing

of all the mighty wonders MY ABBA has orchestrated.

No, HE IS still THE KING OF KINGS, and miracles are not out-dated.

Every day HE reaches down –

begins a fresh new miracle within my heart,

so I can be satisfied even the next day too –

before it even starts.

Circumstances change.

Feelings and people do too,

but GOD’S UNFAILING ABILITY TO LOVE –

doesn’t change, only alters you.

I can’t help but sing of the great love MY ABBA has for me;

HE just keeps satisfying all my desires when I am fixed on HE!

God’s Perfect Timing

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To everything there is a season and a purpose under Heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Something to know about me – I love the change of seasons, and most of the time, they don’t change quickly enough for me. No sooner than summer days become piping hot, I find myself wishing for the leaves of fall. Before I’ve even had the opportunity to enjoy autumn’s array of colors as much as I’d hoped, the trees become naked and winter sets in. Excited for a moment, enjoying hot chocolates and small bonfires, winter finds me too crisp, and I find myself daydreaming about rainbow-colored carpets decorating the neighbors’ lawns and sounds of newborn birds – awaiting to learn how to fly during the spring. I just can’t get too comfortable with any particular season – each has its pros and cons. There are things I love about each, and things I can’t wait to leave behind as each season passes.

What is particularly interesting to me about any of these seasons is that you would never know they have changed when walking down the produce aisle at the local grocery stores. Whether summer or winter, you will find the same exact stuff – ripe, abundant, inexpensive. This was not odd to me until I became mature enough to understand geographical regions, genetically modified food, and the perfect seasons for certain produce. Now, I understand that I might should question juicy watermelons and tomatoes in the middle of December. It’s completely unnatural; they grow during the summer!

So it goes with the seasons of my life. I am beginning to understand that life – “happy all the time” – means I might not be in the center of GOD’S will for my life at that time and season. I’ve started to “check out the produce” when I find myself in one emotional season for too long of a time…especially the ones that are fun and easy – because I’ve come to understand how GOD uses the changing of seasons in my life to bring about HIS plans. Letting me stay in one place for too long would allow me to become rotten and unfit for consumption. In order for me to have a complete understanding of who MY FATHER is, HE allows me to walk through some pretty seemingly tumultuous seasons in my day to day life. How could I understand HIM as JEHOVAH JIREH, MY PROVIDER, if I’ve always had plenty and never experienced a season of drought and famine? How could I know HIM as JEHOVAH RAPHA, MY HEALER, if I’ve never been through a season of sickness and thought I was knocking at death’s door? How could I know HIM as SHALOM, MY PEACE, if I’ve never been through the storms of distress and tragedy?

GOD is not as interested in my temporary carnal happiness than HE is my eternal salvation and sanctification. HE uses the circumstances of life to rotate the produce in my life – allowing me to be most effective to HIS kingdom. Unlike the local grocery stores’ eerie plunder of the same consistent choices throughout the year, GOD does delight in HIS children being a garden of variety and relevance to the different people HE places throughout our lives. HE desires us to be fruitful; fruit only comes through the cycle of seasons. Oftentimes, I find myself swimming against the flow. For instance, when I’m supposed to be in the season for patience, I often decide it’s too hard to wait, so I make things happen “now.” OR maybe I’m supposed to be in the season of being still and quiet before GOD, but instead I try to force friendships, and constantly run my mouth.

My heart truly desires to be in the center of GOD’S perfect will. I really want HIM to develop fruit in my life throughout the spiritual seasons HE both allows and sometimes produces. This world is already starving enough – it doesn’t need another piece of genetically modified vegetation. I want to be the real thing!

FATHER, Ecclesiastes 1:2 says, “to everything there is a season and a purpose under Heaven.” The next time I find myself in a particular season that I might not like or think I can bare, let me remember the fruit YOU are trying to grow in my life. Let me choose to endure whatever season may come and worship YOU in its midst because I know that YOU have a purpose.

 

 Too much, too soon, too fast;

don’t bring that up – it’s from the past.

Not now, maybe later, we can’t do that yet.

Don’t bring that topic up – I’m trying to forget.

Let’s put it off till another day;

that’s not the right direction – find another way.

Not her, not him;

it’s not a good idea to try and be friends with them.

Wrong time, wrong place, definitely wrong season.

Wish I could really have this now, but I can’t find a reason.

We are all too familiar with the words of hesitation.

When being told “no” to what we desire – we feel a ton of aggravation.

We like things now; we want them just our way.

Can’t stand to be told to “come back some other day.”

Now” is the answer to when we want things done.

We don’t like to be told to wait because waiting is no fun.

We have been conditioned to show up early at the gate –

to get our season tickets, we certainly can’t be late!

We treat this life like Burger King –

wanting things just the way we like them and right now.

We don’t know a thing about being patient –

don’t ask us; we don’t know how.

 This makes it very difficult

for GOD to have HIS way;

it makes it hard for HIM to do

HIS will throughout the day.

If we always set

on making our own plans –

trying to have things when we want them –

failing to understand

that sometimes the “no”

is really not about rejection;

YOU’RE telling me “not right now,”

and it’s for my own protection.

There is a perfect timing,

in which YOU do everything –

a time to laugh; a time to cry;

a time to dance and sing.

For everything there is a purpose;

there is a perfect timing –

if only I would just trust YOU

and stop all my foolish whining.

For what would this planet look like

if it were all sunshine and no rain?

How would I understand what joy felt like

if I never had felt pain?

What if there was all summer and never any snow?

Tell me how could I appreciate it all – if I did not know?

Next time, when I find myself, in my least favorite of a season –

I will remember that even with this – GOD still has a reason!

Come OUT of This World

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Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what GOD’S will is – HIS good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

 

Everything about the world that we see with our natural eyes is intentionally meant to attract us to the world and and teach us to conform to it. Advertising companies spend millions of dollars on commercials aimed at drawing audiences into stores to buy their newest products, based on the premise that if we use them – we will be just like the people we see in the commercials. Even the movies we watch are meant to condition us to dress, talk, and act a certain way – do whatever it takes to look, act, and feel just like the stars in Hollywood. Consumerism thrives on our desire and ability to conform to the world around us. Earlier than the time we begin to communicate, we begin to learn how to adjust to the world around us by camouflaging with it. The more “normal” we are, the more healthier people assume we are. Society judges us by how well we fit in. School counselors, therapists, even some pastor’s, help “fix us” when we don’t.

When we become children of GOD, though, everything we have been taught about the world’s ways begins to clash with everything GOD begins to reveal about HIS ways. We soon find out that we were initially deceived into accepting a false identity that now must be replaced with a “new man” that Paul describes throughout the book of ROMANS. The more we begin to understand this new man GOD intended us to be, the more we also begin to realize that we have spent a lifetime conforming to images that have been intentionally pulling us away from the original creation that GOD designed and purposed us to be. The world has been trying to produce through us, a world of obedient, cookie-cutter slaves, but GOD is now calling us to come out of the world and be transformed into HIS CHURCH. Instead of THE CHURCH defining what the world should look like – it too has now conformed to the world’s expectations for the sake of “drawing it in,” “attracting a crowd,” “staying relevant to the culture.” Now, no one can really see the differences between the two…THE CHURCH has lost its authority; meanwhile, nothing in the spirit world changes.

So, if this is the problem, than what it is the solution? In ROMANS 12:1-2, Paul commands the Believer to offer his life as a living sacrifice, pleasing to GOD. The world has taught us to live, to live well, to live without regrets, to make ourselves happy…but GOD asks us to come out of the world – give it all up – to present our very bodies to HIM as a living sacrifice to do with as HE pleases. Paul must have understood how difficult of a process this was truly going to be because he went on to say, “and be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” He tells the Believer to literally walk away from this world and your nature…letting your entire self be morphed into GOD’S image by completely allowing your mind to be renewed through THE WORD OF GOD.

How is this done?

Paul says “be transformed.” Transformed comes from the Greek word metamorphosis. So, Paul is asking us to allow our entire inward and outward appearance to be changed by THE WORD OF GOD. IT works a lot like a commercial. Commercials bank on you hearing them over and over – so much so, that you find yourself singing their jingles throughout the day and replaying their images when the time arrives where you need a product that they advertise. Then, next time you are at the store and realize you’re out of mascara, you find yourself pacing up and down the make-up aisle reciting the words to the jingle and trying to remember exactly which brand of mascara that commercial was for because it made Penelope Cruz’s eyelashes look phenomenal. Maybe you didn’t even need the mascara; you just wanted Penelope Cruz’s eyelashes. Thus, the power of the commercial…the movie…the pop star…the idol.

So it is when renewing our minds with GOD’S WORD. IT banks on you playing it over and over again in your mind – every time there is a choice, a problem, a word to be spoken – continually playing THE WORD in your mind and being obedient to what it says because we desire to look and act just like JESUS CHRIST – the only person we are to desire looking like. This transformation happens as we become obedient to THE WORD, which has now become the foundation for our new thought pattern and identity. As BELIEVERS, we must carefully examine our lives and find the hidden idols – all of the people we find ourselves constantly competing against and comparing ourselves throughout the day. The only person we are to be like is JESUS, and we can’t do that without an inward change. The world wants to trap us in to conforming….but GOD desires to give us the entire transformation.

 

I was not created by THE MASTER to be just like this world and conform –

for I was created to be just like HIM and only HIS will to perform.

The enemy tempts and tests me all day, trying to get me to give in to my flesh,

but I know that conforming to what he wants me to do will only lead to my ultimate death.

 

Just like the caterpillar transforms in the cocoon, three-fourths of most of its life,

I’m supposed to “hide out in Christ” not conforming to heartache and strife.

GOD is calling me to come out of this world, no longer conform to its ways,

so HE can add health to my body and length to all of my days.

My mind must be washed with HIS WORD constantly and stayed fixed on IT throughout the day –

not conforming to this world’s sinful nature, or be in the habit of getting my own way.

Each thought that I have, each word that I speak, each action that I might do –

should always be tested on GOD’S WORD to see if HE would truly approve.

 

I cannot conform any longer to what I see with my natural eyes.

For it is only a world full of sin that is built with the enemy’s lies.

GOD’S will is more eternal in nature, for HE caused me instead to transform –

to HIS WORD and IT only, which will stand during the darkest of life’s storms.

HE knows what is coming; HE sees what it will take

to get me through to the end, while using me for HIS sake.

HE’S provided HIS WORD to continually renew my mind –

to wash it in HIM, rather than sit dormant and lie

waste for the enemy to use as he may –

ignoring THE PRICE that GOD has already paid.

 

No, HE’S called me to be set apart; HE made me do HIS will –

so while the rest of the world’s conforming, I will be patient and be still

and allow my mind to be renewed with what GOD has to say,

to test and approve what HE wants me to do, so I’ll be pleasing to HIM throughout my day!

 

How Far Will The Saviour Go For Those He Loves?

 

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God will be with you wherever you may go.” Joshua 1:9

 

When I first drew this picture, I accidentally put the wrong Scripture reference with it. Initially, I had Jonah 1:9, and after much debate with my husband, I finally realized that he was correct, and that this Scripture was actually found in Joshua 1:9. I actually wrote two different responses then realized that the two of them actually worked together to prove how far God will actually go for those He loves. The story of Jonah was only a confirmation that God is truly with His people – wherever they may go! I found it appropriate to leave both of my responses as they were:

Drawing this picture, I had only pondered the light-hearted tone of the pastel colored cars and peaceful rolling hills – leaving me with an overwhelming sense of encouragement as I was gently reminded of all the difficult places I have traveled in my life with God’s protection. The story of Jonah reminded me of my own story of rebellion during the earlier years of my life. These were the times where God continually provided me shelter in unexpected places, quite similar to the belly of a whale. However, when I sat down to write about this particular Scripture, I found myself surprised by how difficult it was.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t fill the pages of a book with testimony after testimony of God’s ability to turn hopeless situations around – even in them midst of rebellion. It was more that I felt the story of Jonah deserved a much deeper examination. I believe the story of Jonah can have two different interpretations – a man who faced two choices – to obey God and go where God was leading him – or to disobey God and still find that no matter where he would try to hide or escape – God, would in fact, still be there – reminding him of his original calling and purpose. Had Jonah obeyed God and went to Nineveh, perhaps his testimony would not have been as awesome.

There are countless examples of God directing His people to foreign and mysterious places that one can find in Scripture. However, there are two specific stories found on opposite sides of the spectrum of faith that I find worthy of comparison – the story of Jonah and the story of Joshua. One is the tale of the obedience of a man after God commanded him to step out and capture the great city of Jericho; the other is a tale of the disobedience of a man after he was commanded to prophecy in the lost city of Nineveh. Although the differences between the stories are quite profound, the end result was the same – God was with both men – wherever they went.

Joshua obeyed God as he circled Jericho for the seventh time, while sounding his trumpets. I wonder if Joshua closed his eyes on the last few steps, anticipating what he would see next? God met Joshua at his obedience, and the walls of Jericho went tumbling down. Jonah, on the other hand, doubted and feared God’s command, later realizing that he could not escape the Omnipresent Creator, found himself in the belly of a whale, headed to the exact same place he was trying to run away from. God had a plan for Jonah, and not ever his disobedience could move him too far away from God’s road-map for his life. Ultimately, God showed Himself present in the lives of both men. Neither Joshua in his obedience nor Jonah in his disobedience could hide from The Omnipresent Creator of the universe.

I have found myself in similar situation to both Jonah and Joshua. Whether running from the call God had on my life, or fervently following Him as He led – God has always been there. I am so glad that I have a Father who is faithfully with me – wherever I may go!

 

 I wonder if Jonah knew

he was only wasting time,

instead of going where God was leading,

all Jonah did was whine.

 

I wonder if Jonah knew

that even if it took a whale –

God would get him to Nineveh –

His will would still prevail.

 

I wonder how Jonah felt

while in the belly of a whale he prayed.

I wonder if he realized God would still go with him –

whatever choice he made.

 

I wonder if he felt

that from his conscience he could escape,

instead of coming to repentance –

admitting he had made a huge mistake.

 

I wonder why it really took

the whale to barf him up –

why couldn’t God’s promise to go with him

have been enough?

 

God might ask us

to go some pretty scary places.

If we find ourselves in rebellion,

He might even have to chase us.

 

 

 

 

But He promised to go with us –

wherever we may go.

He’ll never forsake us –

if we refuse to tell Him no.

 

Don’t be like Jonah

and the long embarrassing tale –

of a man in his rebellion –

who wound up in the belly of a whale.

 

When the Saviour calls you on a mission,

don’t ever tell Him no….

be like Joshua who obeyed,

and took the city of Jericho.

 

We can’t escape the Master’s voice –

His presence is with us whichever story we may choose –

God is always with His children –

not a one will He ever lose.

 

 

 

Taste and See That Our God is Good

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O taste and see that the Lord is good. “Psalms 34:8

 

Have you ever cooked something for the very first time and found yourself absolutely starving but totally anxious about eating it because you were unsure about how the flavor turned out? I have cooked on many occasions and realized just before the meal that I hadn’t already tasted the entree first – sampling and approving it before serving it to eager bellies. For some reason, I just don’t sample my food while cooking it. I guess the main reason I do this is for fear that it will not taste quite as I had expected it to – and given my personality – throw the whole entire thing away in fear that it will turn out horribly. So, now I’ve discovered that it usually turns out better if I just follow my gut when I’m preparing one of my recipes. I use my family, if need be, to taste-test things along the way, and then I’m able to enjoy the final surprise of each flavor later appreciated by my patient taste-buds. Most of the time, I am pleased with the outcome of my labor, but being the perfectionist that I am, there are also those times that one bite was more than enough. While everyone else happily cleans their plates, I’m stuck analyzing what went wrong with my recipe to make it turn out less than what I had expected.

You know, my life in CHRIST is somewhat like that recipe, except, HE IS THE CHEF. When GOD is cooking you a meal, you don’t worry about sampling the food before digging in. You certainly don’t question THE MASTER CHEF when HE offers you a bite of what HE has been preparing! And unlike the meal I cook that leaves me wanting – each and every bite of what HE serves is satisfying. David nudges us to the kitchen counter in the 34th Psalm. He tantalizes the Believer with the sweet aroma of GOD’S grace and mercy. He dares the Child of GOD to reach out and take a bite from GOD’S plate – a meal that was personally created with our specific taste-buds in mind.

I have tasted and seen how WONDERFUL GOD IS. Though sometimes life offers bittersweet moments – GOD in HIS WONDER and GRACE always finds a way to add HIS special touch to the menu. Yes, GOD IS GOOD! GOD IS always SO GOOD!

 

I find myself throughout the day,

hungry and thirsty,

most needing to pray.

 

It’s not that I hadn’t eaten any snacks,

but everything when down

and kept me coming back

for something that might be more filling and tasty,

had I been a little patient

instead of acting hasty….

 

I might have found my belly full from the start,

but the belly wasn’t the issue

cause I was hungry in my heart.

 

You see everything that I have tasted in life leaves me still wanting;

you’d think the snacks would get old fast,

but their still just really taunting.

 

There is always something calling out to me – asking me to catch it –

thinking that if I can satisfy this hunger,

never again will I have to fetch it.

 

But there’s only one thing I know that satisfies my soul;

there’s only one snack really worth eating

that will always leave you whole.

 

CHRIST has provided an eternal pantry; HE awaits for me to eat –

everything that HE has prepared is good – O my soul, just wait and see!

 

 

 

Whom Can I Trust?

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Trust in the Lord with all thy heart; lean not into thine own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

This is one of those trademark VERSES – you know what I’m talking about – those verses that we normally come across and rush past because we have seen it used on every church sign, bulletin, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, kitchen magnets, etc. You can even find those who don’t walk with the Lord, but are still versed in this SCRIPTURE. IT is easy to say; a lot harder to put into practice. When used for preventive meditations – simple. Let my daughter be in the middle of an asthma attack at 2 am on a Saturday morning, despite the fact that we have anointed her with oil and prayed – well, that SCRIPTURE becomes a mystery within ITSELF.

You see, it’s really easy to overlook the small words hidden throughout this VERSE – the ones that actually hide the depth of the intimate message being disclosed…words like “in,” “all,” “own,” “He,” “direct….” These are the ones, I can easily prove, are simply overlooked in the Believer’s response to the SCRIPTURE. Too often, we mess up at the very beginning when we began to put our trust in something else. We look at things through our own understanding. We make a ton of little decisions all day long while we already in this off-course condition. Then, we acknowledge HIM in anger and resentment because we feel abandoned in the forest of life. Consequently, we walk around for years denying, ignoring, secretly hating our VERY CREATOR!

I’ve done it a million times. But at this point in my life, I am beginning to understand that GOD’S WORD IS not only ALIVE, but EVERY WORD of IT – great or small – IS RELEVANT. Deep within the heart of the message of every SCRIPTURE, in fact, is hidden an even more intimate layer of GOD’S REVELATION to us. These are the things that help me transform from being a hearer of the WORD into a spiritual warrior equipped for the mission from MY KING!

Proverbs 3:5-6 says “trust in the Lord.” I must be really honest about this one – with four fingers pointing back at myself – our 2012 culture has conditioned us to trust in everything but GOD! This alone could be an entire different entry. Sticking to the message relevant for now…Do I truly trust GOD? When I don’t get the raise or the promotion I deserve and was promised – in fact, I was just let go? When my husband just walked out on me – the woman on his arm was my best friend? When I have prayed for healing – the symptoms are still there? Do I really trust in GOD with ALL of my heart. ALL, not some, not all part of the time.

Application to the Heart

FATHER, I’ve got to get past all of this first to really even claim that I am trusting YOU! All of my heart is tough, GOD – especially the parts I have reserved for the people that are important in my life. But, this too, GOD, I’m still beginning to be able to do.

But then, I get to “lean not into my own understanding,” OUCH…isn’t that what helped me get this far??? No, ew, I see, GOD – foolish pride. IT is only YOUR HOLY SPIRIT WHO helps me even begin to understand the things YOU have stored for us in YOUR WORD. And too often, rather than letting YOU unfold the message, I run off at the mouth foolishly believing that I have even began to activate THE WORD into my life. I can’t do this on my own, GOD. The situations where I don’t know that answers or can’t even begin to really understand the problems on my own – those situations are easy to trust into YOUR INFINITE WISDOM and wait for YOUR HOLY REVELATION. But those times where I think I know the answer, especially when it is concerning something I really want – those times – I really have a habit of understanding things all by myself. The problem is that my own wisdom can never measure up to THE ALL-KNOWING, OMNIPOTENT, GOD that YOU ARE, and YOUR KNOWLEDGE over creation – since YOU ARE THE CREATOR, GOD, ELOHIM. When I face a choice, any choice, I seek the consultation of YOU first….YOU promise that YOUR direction will be near!

 

You can find a thousand things these days to lean on for a rest,

but try and depend on any of those things to get you through life’s next test.

 

A chair can give your legs some time,

a bed your whole body can lay –

but only leaning and resting on GOD

can give you rest and direction throughout the day.

 

When it comes to gaining understanding,

well, you will find fewer WHO you can trust

to help you deal with temptation, carnality, and lust.

For most people really do not find themselves questioning these things,

they are far more interested in Facebook, clothes, and diamond rings.

 

But there is a MAN that promised HIS INFINITE WISDOM AND HIS GRACE.

HE promised to direct us through any circumstance we might face.

 

But we must lean upon HIM, not rest upon ourselves,

or we’ll find that our situation then becomes a place to dwell.

 

Trusting in CHRIST takes active participation;

seeing HIS WORD come alive, takes our activation.

 

We must put IT to work when the tests have arrived;

we must depend upon IT for our very own lives.

 

We must cling to HIS UNDERSTANDING; we must trust in HIS PROTECTION;

we must rely upon HIS AWESOME POWER – and receive HIS LOVING CORRECTION.

 

There is nothing in this life that should leave us with the question –

that if we gave it to THE CHRIST, HE will have THE BEST SUGGESTION.

 

 

How Able is God?

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“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 3:20

 

I can identify more times in my life than I care to recall, where I failed to activate the knowledge of this Scripture…where I failed to take the Scripture farther than a belief and actually practiced it. I wonder what would have happened had Andrew forgotten Jehovah Jireh’s abilities that day when Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000 with just two fish and a few loaves of bread? How sad it would have been to find this awesome miracle unwritten in Scripture because God’s chosen – didn’t choose to believe in Him who IS able to do exceedingly – abundantly – above all they could ever imagine!

Yet, I find many times throughout my personal life where I was spiritually hungry, and I didn’t allow God to miraculously provide for me a meal that would not only have sustained me, but also provided a personal imprint and testimony to all the starving people around me at the time. What if Andrew would have turned his back on the 5,000 and just focused on the hunger and the lack of food? What if the boy would have been unwilling to offer up his small sacrifice because he chose to believe there was just no way that it would ever feed the multitude he saw with his physical eyes? What would I have done with my two fish and three loaves of bread had God asked me to feed the 5,000?

In some ways, He is asking me to do just that, on a day to day basis. He is asking me to allow my life to be broken and spilled out before Him on a continual basis, so that He may pour me out as a blessing to the spiritually dying all around me. Instead, I focus on the brokenness and lack – I forget, He likes both – because it gives Him the opportunity to be Jehovah Jireh in our lives. Paul said in Ephesians 3:20 that there is a power that works within us. As a Believer, that power should be the Almighty’s anointing. His anointing provides for us in a way that only Abba Father cares enough to provide for His elect Children. For those that call Him “FATHER,” now only with their words, but by their obedience to His Word, He performs miracles that go exceedingly over and above what we could have ever gotten by our own merits and self-sufficiency.

How much is exceedingly abundantly? Well, it’s more – more than – more than I can ask; more than I can imagine! When I consider the truth and the promise of This Scripture, IT makes me feel downright silly for ever taking any of life’s concerns into my own hands…not when I have Abba Father always on standby – ready, willing, and able to do over and above all I could ever ask!

 

I don’t know why I get all riled up

when worries cause my heart to sink –

because I have a Heavenly Dad –

able to do more than my heart could think.

 

When life throws curve balls, and I find myself

short-sighted and in trouble,

it still really isn’t all that difficult

for Daddy to make sense of all the rubble.

 

When a situation I can’t seem to handle

within my life arises,

I just remember that Father God

disguises presents in all sizes.

 

There are situations that arise in life

that may look hopeless and sad –

these are just times for Abba to show off

that He is the Awesome Dad!

 

He is able to do exceedingly abundantly

more than my mind could ever think –

heck just look how He spoke the whole world into

existence in just one week!

 

How can I worry about

all these situations that I face

when My Daddy is the Almighty

Creator of the human race?

 

He is able to cease the wind

with only one gentle word;

to think I worried it would destroy my sail

was foolish and absurd!

 

How much is exceeding?

How far can His abundance go?

Can it reach high like His favor,

or when in need of grace kneel low?

 

Can it stretch across all life’s issues

and cover any condition?

Can it really meet all my needs,

even the ones I haven’t mentioned?

 

Yes, HIS exceeding abundance is more

than adequate to say the least,

when we are Children of The Father,

His love and mercy never cease!

 

What it Means To Love Like Christ

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Be completely humble and gentle, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

I chose to write about this particular SCRIPTURE today because I knew it wouldn’t be easy given how my morning started. I felt drawn to it in my convictions, and I suppose this is when I find my writing the most anointed. Being completely humble with everyone is something I find rather difficult – especially when added with gentleness – it’s just not my personality. I generally would consider myself to be the person who seeks justice; who quickly discerns evil; and sees only in black and white. I’m also a fairly passionate person – nothing monotone about me. I am quick to state my opinion; quick to make a judgment; and quick to shoot off at someone once my feelings have gotten hurt. Which on some days, it particularly easy to do. This morning was one of those days.

But then, I was flipping through my SCRIPTURE art to do my daily writing, and I stumbled across this verse. Trust me, the way I was feeling at the moment – I flipped right past it rather quickly. But, the HOLY SPIRIT asked me to go back to IT. I knew that if I ignored the message, it would be useless for me to try and write.

You see, Paul was not a popular man. He had a radical message because he insisted that man deny his carnal nature – his need for recognition; his desire for revenge. Paul consistently directed the Believer to the life of CHRIST – THE SON OF GOD – WHO gave up HIS authority and lived a life based on humility, forgiveness, unconditional love, and service to an undeserving world. This message was so unpopular for its time that it ended up cause Paul to experience jail, torture, stoning, death.

Even today, the real GOSPEL of CHRIST is not a popular one. Instead, you hear the so-called “church” preaching the message of grace, prosperity, whatever feels good, name it claim it, believe it to receive it…Don’t get me wrong; you’ll find forgiveness in these messages – watered down with tolerance. You’ll hear about unconditional love in these messages – watered down with love of self and emotionalism. It is very rare to find the genuine message of what it truly means to die as CHRIST, described by Paul in Galatians 2:20, or to live as Christ, as Paul described in Ephesians 4:2.

“Completely humble” – Webster defines “humble” as “1. expressing respect for the wishes of another. 2. low in rank and condition.” So, Paul is telling me that regardless of the wrong I feel I have been done, I am to express respect for the wishes of the person who wronged me? I chuckle…convicted…thinking of my husband and how I treated him this morning – watching him kneel before a van – barefooted, dirty, rocks imprinted in his knees – because I kicked him out of the apartment during an argument this morning…still, he humbly and patiently focuses on a twelve year old van, trying to save us $1000 by replacing all the spark plugs himself. Chuckle. I laugh again. He’s replacing the spark plugs. If those are what puts out all the spark and spunk in the engine, then I guess they are a lot like my mouth and my words, which are supposed to be completely humble and gently too. Ouch. Convicted. Next part.

“bearing with one another” – another translation reads “patient with one another.” (Chuckle, again. Convicted. That’s what I do – chuckle when I’m embarrassed. I’ve been caught red-handed again. You see, that’s half my problem too – patience – it just totally goes against my general personality and nature…remember? I mentioned that earlier. OH, I get it GOD…”my personality and nature” – those are those things that Paul says must be crucified with CHRIST in Galatians 2:20. I see, and Ephesians 4:2 is the new personality and nature I am supposed to take on – that of CHRIST’S…completely patient and gently with one another….

I guess it really isn’t an either or thing for anybody. To receive GOD’S blessing, I must live as CHRIST and die to self. I can’t hold on to pride, a harsh tongue, and a short tempter, and still receive the blessing of GOD’S SPIRIT at the same time because it breaks relationship with THE FATHER. THE FATHER’S personality is bent towards the broken, the humble, the repentant, the contrite, the gentle…I guess that’s what HE meant when HE said to go and make it right with your neighbor

first before bringing your offerings.

In order to love someone as CHRIST has asked us to, our attitudes must first be changed to reflect the true nature of who JESUS is. HE could have been pompous; HE had a right to, but HE was humble instead. HE could have defended HIMSELF, cursed HIS enemies just like HE did the fig tree, but HE was gentle as a lamb instead. HE should have lost HIS temper with HIS disciples, for walking with HIM on a daily basis and still struggling with unbelief, but HE was patient instead. HE should have been done with us as the cross, but HE chose to love us and die instead.

Do I want to have the life that GOD intends for me to have? Then, I must let HIM transform the was I act in my relationships, especially when I get hurt – by learning how to be completely humble and gentle instead – and bearing patiently with my enemy in love.

 

 I wondered what would have happened to me – had GOD given me what I deserved –

every time I screwed up and acted like a terd?

I wonder where I would be if instead of finding HIS grace,

JESUS just laughed at me and left me lying on my face?

I wonder just how horrible my consequences might have been –

had the SAVIOR let me reap the outcomes of all my sin?

I wonder what this world would be like, if HE acted just like me…

giving people what they deserved and resenting everybody?

 

Yes, I’m glad I have a SAVIOR – who lived as humble as a lamb –

gave up HIS throne and died upon the tree – forsaken by I AM.

Done nothing wrong, helped all HE met;

still the tree is what HE would get.

Still chose to love, to heal, to serve –

tell me did THIS MAN deserve

to die upon an awful tree –

after living this life clothed in humility?

 

There is a reason THE SAVIOR lived and died just this way –

to give man the example how to love from day to day.

HE reflected the acts of pure love;

HE received HIS strength from THE FATHER above.

Deserving of honor, HE could have been proud,

but humility was all THIS MAN was screaming aloud.

 

HE gave me the example of how to love perfectly –

doing what is best for others, not always thinking about me.

How to forgive those who have caused me pain in my heart.

How to choose to be humble instead of proud from the start.

 

If anyone knew better what THE SAVIOR was like, then Paul must have knew HIM best –

for he echoed THE SAVIOR’S heart and truly passed the test.

When in Ephesians 4 and 2, Paul went on to describe –

how to be humble with one another and love completely with our lives.

This won’t be all that easy – of this I can surely testify;

the devil’s job is to try and make me that GOD’S WORD is a lie –

by keeping me from being able to receive THE FATHER’S answer

because I’, sitting in some foolish anger, and it’s eating me like a cancer.

Since THE FATHER is true to what HIS WORD says,

if I can’t forgive my brother, than I mine as well be dead.

 

If I can just remember to be humble – and love as Paul insisted –

then the enemy will find himself eternally resisted…

and the doors of HEAVEN will continually be open up

because nothing but my foolish pride and unforgiveness – can the doors of HEAVEN shut.

A Special Gift Chosen Just For You

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Stir up the gift of God which is in you.” II Timothy 1:6

 

“Stir up” – when I think of this phrase, a few things come to mind:

1. Directions for cooking = mix all the ingredients together really well, until they become one unified ingredient.

2. The times in my life where I become stirred in my anger, or anxiety, or depression, or rejection = I lose my temper, and I begin to stir up, or allow emotions to stir up within me, that are ungodly; therefore, causing the situation to go beyond what it should have – had I taken it to the Lord, washed it in prayer, and replaced it with the truth of His Word.

3. The places in Scripture, which I am most familiar, where the apostles warned against stirring up strife, gossip, anger, and the works of the flesh = something I struggle with on a constant basis….especially when dealing with rejection or the temptation to be nosy about things that are really none of my business.

But Timothy, in this Scripture says – actually commands the Believer “to stir up the gift of God, which is in us.” This is an instruction that reveals more about life than what first glance might reflect. First of all, it tells me that God has given us a gift, a personal, unique present that Abba Father has packaged, beautifully, inside of me! It could be my talent, the people that He leads into my life…

Second of all, it tells me that I must stir it within me. This tells me it is dormant, or still, until I obey GOD’S WORD, identify what it is, then wake it up. It has to be shaken, awoken, aroused – because it has either never been awaken or because it has fallen asleep. How? One look at the way I spend my time throughout a typical day would soon reveal the answers to that question. If my time and energy is devoted to pop culture, my friends, my chores, my previous commitments, expectations on myself (or from others), unrepentant sin, anxieties – get the picture?

Our gifts can be washed down the river of life and apathy, until upon glance, looks like it has ceased to exist. We fear that our choices, failures, lack, procrastination – have taken us farther down the river of failure than God’s ability to turn us back around. But Timothy gives the believer a promise and a hope here. He promises me that the gift is in me, and that it can be stirred up if I am obedient to God’s Word.

Thirdly, the prepositional phrase “of God,” cannot be overlooked. These two small words change the entire direction the passage could otherwise be interpreted. Timothy didn’t tell the Believer to run after his own dreams and selfish ambitions. He specifically exhorted the Believer to stir up the gift God has placed in me. I can think of many times in my life where I stirred up a lot of gifts that I don’t believe God intended for me to be using at that time and season in my life.

One specific time that sticks out in my memory is after having my long-awaited for and much prayed about arrival of my daughter, Alexandra. I was 26, and trying to be everything opposite of my mom – trying to pursue dreams that would gain the respect of my family and friends…stirring up gifts at the wrong time and the wrong season once she had arrived. In my heart, I believe that God wanted me to focus on the gift He had given me in my daughter and to purpose to stir the gift of motherhood in my heart. Instead, I was more influenced by what my family and friends thought about my achievements….so I feel like I really rushed through, wasted, or overlooked many years of operating in one of my most precious and enjoyed gifts – that of just being a mother – no other title – not teacher of the year, department chair, employee of the month –

“The gift of God, which is in me…” Focus on what He desires for my life because this is what truly leads to my peace and joy.

 

 I’ve turned a year older at least thirty-seven times,

and found my self depressed because I didn’t have enough gifts to call all mine.

 

I’ve opened many a packages with lofty expectation,

hoping to receive my heart’s desire for that time, but only hesitation –

After opening only to find it really wasn’t picked out for me,

but a gift that was really picked out for just anybody!

 

It hadn’t been personally thought of with my personalities or tastes in mind –

and maybe in my heart of hearts, instead of saying “thank you,” I thought “waste of time.”

 

I know this attitude isn’t God’s best for my life.

I need to learn to be thankful when people at least try and be nice.

 

But in II Timothy one and six, something special and surprising is revealed –

that my Abba Father has really given me and awesome gift, despite what I sometimes feel!

 

He didn’t waste His time or money on pretty paper, ribbons, and a bow,

but instead He fashioned this gift inside of me – the Bible tells me so!

 

The package has more care and effort than any store-bought box could hold,

and it grows to contain the most precious gift within it as life unfolds.

 

But unlike any other gift, which after unwrapped we throw the package away…

God continually can use our package each and every day.

 

You see, until we have discovered the precious gift He placed within our hearts,

our bodies only serve as clay, and the real living of life cannot start.

 

Once we ask Christ into our hearts, and become Children of The King,

it then becomes the time in life, where God begins to identify the things

that He plans to do within us as our hearts we commit,

to Him and Him alone to do as He sees fit.

 

These things specifically designed by Abba Father’s hands,

become the very things He uses as forces of change throughout this land!

 

He has placed within each of us a very special gift indeed,

but we must take the time to stir it up, or it mine as well just leave.

Because if no one gets to enjoy us as God truly designed us to be –

how very sad this life would look – it it were truly just all about me!

Looking For Directions?

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Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21

Although it is quite difficult with the present technology – there is nothing quite as certain to send you into a panic as getting lost. Thankfully, it’s only happened to me on a few occasions, of which all had one thing in common – each person I asked for direction had something different to say. I can remember, almost in every instance, driving away trying to somehow clump together all that I had been told and make a reasonable and educated choice at very next red light. Too bad those were the days before GPS and Google Maps. Today, you just plug in a basic tag word, address, or general location, and right before your very eyes – pops up your Digital Navigational Genie.

Life is one big road map. Society has been conditioned to believe that we own our own roadways and should be able to determine our own course. Everywhere we turn – choices. We have been taught to like them, and we do; we like them; we depend on them; we take them for granted; we don’t know what to do when they’re taken away. As a whole, we make our decisions quickly and independently. In fact, we resent input, especially when it doesn’t reflect what we truly want. I’d say, we are generations off-course – we are born so far in the direction of self-determination and free-will that most of us are making general life or death choices on a day-to-day basis without even stopping to consider Yahweh’s opinion.

You argue, “no!”

Really?

Did you ask HIM about what you should eat today? What about what you watched on television? How about what you wore? Who you had lunch with? What about how you spent your money today? Your time? Talents?

Ah, now you see what I mean. Maybe you ask, “so what’s the big deal?”

For the children of Israel, it was much bigger than they thought. Seemed like just a little idol worship – until they found themselves about to starve to death in Egypt. GOD was at the point, that it was HIS WAY or no way. HE brought them to their knees, hoping they would look up for direction. It wasn’t until the point of hopelessness that they asked and GOD replied – with a still small voice – HE gave HIS reassurance. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will a voice behind you, saying this is the way; walk in it.”

I believe, GOD sometimes allows us to wander into a wilderness just to get our attention back on HIM. THE VOICE didn’t come from “beside” or “in front of,” but IT was a voice from “behind.” The children of Israel had obviously left GOD behind like we often to with our day-to-day choices. Instead of walking with GOD and recognizing HIS authority in our lives whether going left or right, we make all sorts of turns off HIS path for our lives. Before we know it, we find ourselves lost in the wilderness without a clue how we got so far off-course.

The ALMIGHTY GOD is concerned about every choice we have to make – big ones, little ones, seemingly unimportant ones…Rather than making THE MASTER speak to the backs of our heads, wouldn’t it make more sense to carry HIM with us in our hearts where ever we went? And when we heard HIM saying, “This is the way; walk in it,” we obeyed? It makes more sense to me. No use in having a map, or a compass, or a GPS if you aren’t going to use it. The smartest thing to do us plug in the address before ever setting off on life’s journey.

I’ve heard of many aides to help assist someone when they’re facing decisions –

tossing coins in the air, compasses, and navigational systems.

I’ve heard of going to fortune tellers, even been once or twice,

but none of these aides are dependable when facing the decisions of life.

Unlike the roads we travel, which often lead to the same place,

there is only one direction you can go to see THE SAVIOUR’S face.

Many people get lost in life from making the wrong turns.

Then, instead of going to the opposite direction once the lesson has been learned –

they keep blazing the same old trails, in their ignorance and pride –

failing to see how they’ve listened to the enemy’s foolish lies.

In the middle of indecision, when we don’t know what to do,

GOD has already provided the directions to lead and carry you.

Whether facing choices about your children, spouse, job, or friends,

take it to THE MASTER first to find out just where to begin –

on the journey GOD has chosen, over 2012 years ago –

when HE fashioned each one of all our days all in a row.

I don’t think there’s anything I’d rather depend on when I’m lost,

then an ALMIGHTY DADDY who sent HIS SON to die upon a cross.

Next time I find myself at the crossroads of indecision,

instead of plugging in my GPS maybe I’ll just mention –

the choice I’m facing to MY SAVIOUR, and see what HE has to say,

to get me off in the right direction and lead me in HIS way.

HE has promised to guide me – If I knock, HE will reply –

The most important answer HE has already given when HE sent HIS SON to die.

So how can I assume that, to HIM, any choice I make may be petty and small?

If HE sent HIS SON to help me make one, then didn’t HE send HIM to help me make them all?

When in need of direction, whether to go to the left or to the right,

I’ll pause to hear HIS answer first, whether it be day or night.

Once HE has shone HIS light and the path has been illuminated,

I’ll run so fast in that direction; I won’t have hesitated.

I’ll keep straight on that path that HE has already guided;

I’ll depend upon HIS holy WORD and all that HE has provided.

I’ll take the time to turn off life and listen with all my heart;

and when THE SAVIOUR calls for me, I’ll be sure to do my part!

It’s Not in the Hearing of God’s Word That Counts – But in the Doing of God’s Word

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Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only. “ James 1:22

 

I have set in many classrooms hopelessly staring into the distance, only to realize I had just missed the teacher’s instructions. Desperately embarrassed to raise my hands and ask her to reiterate what she had just spoken, I instead crossed my fingers and hoped that I had gotten the general idea of what she was expecting. I’ve always tried to be a teacher’s pet, of course, this would throw a stumbling block should this have been the one time I was mistaken and didn’t quite complete the assignment as required. Surprisingly enough, I made it through school this way with pretty decent grades and fairly decent relationships with most of my teachers. Was it possible that over a twelve year span, I comprehensively missed some very important instructions?

Isn’t it wonderful that GOD’S WORD; although very much like a classroom, IS always readily available? HE IS never in too much a hurry to recap important instructions – HE even gives us HIS SPIRIT to help Them make sense. But what happens when HE lays out all the details and expectations only to find that HIS students are more interested in the grade?

You know, I have also been the teacher handing out the material I expected my students to master. It meant nothing to me to hear any particular student recite taught information. I was impressed when I saw them put the taught information to practice in whatever situations they were dealing with at the time. This was definitely the evidence that really learning had taken place…not the test grade!

I think ABBA FATHER feels the exact same way about the things we learn about HIM through HIS WORD. James 1:22 says not just to listen to THE WORD and let IT go in one ear and out the other. James commands the Believer to DO what they have read and learned in CHRIST. Oh, that this was as easy as being a student back in high school! Mastering a teacher’s objectives for a test is sometimes so much easier because the questions are laid out in black and white – with only one correct answer…but wait…

Life is the same way when you base it one the black, white, and red font of the WORD OF GOD!

 

 DADDY, I have found myself again,

taking advantage of YOUR GRACE –

YOUR WILL had slipped my mind again,

and now I’m too ashamed to look upon YOUR FACE.

 

I realize there was something specific YOU had asked of me,

but instead of following what YOU had instructed,

I only listened to the words – leaving me now only

to feel frustrated and reluctant,

 

because I know that it means nothing

to just read YOUR WORD than forget

to apply IT when life begins to tempt

and consume me with its tests.

 

YOUR WORD becomes alive and active

when lived out loud for all the world to see

IT perform YOUR WILL AND WAY,

in someone prone to disobedience like me.

 

If I let YOUR WORDS just slip out of my ears,

if I forget what THEY truly mean,

than THE WORD just stagnates in my gut –

never transforming what people have seen.

 

I choose not only to chew upon YOUR WORD,

and meditate on WHAT I read,

but also to perform what IT says,

with every word and deed.

 

I’ll be a doer of YOUR WORD –

not only will I just listen –

but I will practice everything that I read,

and gain a crown that truly glistens!

 

The Savior Takes Great Delight in His Children

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He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

When it comes to relationships, I’ve faced many personal disappointments in my life because of unmet expectations – unmet expectations in the areas of conversation, appreciation, encouragement, affection, intimacy…I can recall too many memories where I ended up feeling emotionally crushed because I hadn’t received the attention and affection I felt I deserved or needed at the time. I’m not just talking about romantic relationships either. These include the relationships with my parents, siblings, close friends, church family, relatives, and of course, the romantic ones too. I don’t think I’ve ever received the “celebration of myself” that my heart and self esteem thought they needed at the time – leaving me in the end, to feel hopeless, worthless, unappreciated. The enemy of my soul tried to use each unmet expectation in my life and redefine it as my overall worth. I struggled with this for thirty-seven years.

You can only begin to imagine the tremendous amount of abandonment I felt during the times in my life where I experienced personal failures. I mean, to already expect cartwheels and fireworks during the achievements in my life I felt were worthy of celebration, and find myself at the end of a lofty idea that was never to become a reality – these times were hard enough. But, the enemy took every failure that I made and amplified the magnitude of it under his microscope of lies and deceit. He used the disappointment of everyone I found my self worth and value from at that time to prove how big of an embarrassment I was to the world, possibly to even the KINGDOM OF GOD. If I Couldn’t get my loved one’s approval when I was trying, then I’d certainly never get it when I began to struggle and make mistakes like every other human on the face of the planet is prone to doing!

The BOOK OF ZEPHANIAH reveals the prophecy of a nation who felt very much like I did. Even at its best, it still wasn’t measuring up to GOD’S expectations, but at this point, it hasn’t even come close to GOD’S best. The nation of Israel faces THE FATHER’S judgment and wrath. And as deserved, they are foretold of its coming. But at the end of the recourse and demonstration of the depths of the consequences Israel is about to face for its rebellion, Zephaniah calls out to GOD’S remnant…a few CHOSEN…stuck right in the middle of a nation that is about to be destroyed. Through Zephaniah, GOD encourages HIS people with THE PROMISE of HIS FAITHFULNESS. After a cry of repentance, HE promises HIS restoration to HIS children. And looking beyond all of their present failures, HE says, “THE LORD YOUR GOD in your midst, THE MIGHTY ONE, will save; HE will quiet you with HIS love; HE will rejoice over you with singing.”

Wow!!! I don’t think I could have ever described more perfectly, what I have wanted to hear someone say to me my whole life –

“Joyelle, wait for ME, honey. I know it looks bad; it might even get worse – but I will be faithful. I see your failures. I have heard your repentance – don’t be ashamed anymore. Sing. Joyelle. Be who I designed you to be. Shine, Joyelle. You will no longer be judged by man. I AM here now; you have MY utter and complete attention. You don’t have to try and measure up to receive MY favor because it already rests upon you, child. I have watched you – every moment of your life – even the small incidental seconds. MY eyes haven’t missed a single one. Every time you felt you missed the mark – I saw it. Every time your goodness was overlooked but your bad deeds were amplified – I saw that too. You are MY daughter because I called you forth in your mother’s womb. I AM rejoicing over you.”

Me, GOD?

“You, Joyelle. I AM glad over you.”

Broken. I don’t understand how, GOD. I’ve failed so many…

“Joyelle, rest in MY arms. Let ME quiet you with MY LOVE. You will never want for the affection of anyone else, ever again. Listen, MY daughter; I wrote you a song.”

I think I have come to understand that man will never be able to clap loud enough for me when I think I’ve just given the most deserving of performances. My husband is never gonna flip cartwheels because I managed not to spend the entire $100 bill. I will never measure up to my earthly father’s expectations, nor will I ever sit on his lap as I had hoped, and hear him tell me how much he loves me. But, I have something of greater significance. I have the uninterrupted attention and eternal gaze of THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE. GOD’S EYES are fixed on me; HE sees me for who I was; who I am; who I am going to be. HE has taken record of every accomplishment, and HE knows about the failures I haven’t even made yet. Still, HE is rejoicing over me – there is a celebration in HEAVEN – thrown by THE KING OF KINGS. Every time HE IS ABLE to look at me accomplishing THE WILL HE PURPOSED – HE sings!

My heart can no longer be stirred with emptiness and disappointment. I am forever quieted by MY DADDY’S LOVE!

I’ve wrestled with myself all day, unaware of HIS affection,

feeling myself slip away, forgetting the connection –

between the love THE FATHER gave to me when HE sent HIS ONLY SON,

and the power that HE has to not just change my life, but the lives of everyone.

At just the point of breaking,

I come to realize within my heart

that ABBA can handle anything,

if I’d just give it to HIM from the start.

Instead of trying to handle things on just my useless, selfish merit –

I’d give it to the KING OF KINGS and find that I inherit

not only HIS delight in me, but also HIS compassion –

for my very life that is in HIS hands – the life that HE has fashioned.

You see, THE CREATOR had this day in mind

when HE formed me from the dirt;

HE knew the exact plans HE had for me;

HE knew exactly what I was worth.

HE knew the price HE would have to pay for me,

and saw that CHRIST was fit

to pay the price of all my sin

and redeem me from all of it.

MY DADDY truly delights in me;

You see, HE sees me through HIS SON –

and through the blood that HE shed for me

when paying the price for what I had done.

How can THE FATHER be satisfied with the child that HE’S created?

How can a child live up to all that the FATHER has anticipated?

How can our lives dance before HIM in such a way that it causes HIM to sing?

How can we share the pain or help alleviate the sting

of the punishment CHRIST paid for us when HE died upon the cross –

to save our souls from dying and save those who are lost?

THE ANSWER is so easy,

yet not as simple for you to do –

let JESUS be your SAVIOUR,

and HIS LIFE will transform you.

Let HIM change everything –

your actions, words, and deeds – saturated in HIS love.

Depend on FATHER GOD

and HIS storehouse from above.

Sit before HIS presence

when you’re thirsty, hungry, or just sad;

sit before the KING OF KINGS,

and HE will make you glad,

as HE quiets you with HIS abundance,

you will hear THE CREATOR singing,

as HE rejoices over you,

even the angels’ wings will be ringing –

up in HEAVEN as HE celebrates

the creation that HE has made,

all because we have chosen not to take for granted

the price that HE has paid.