He stayed

So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. John 11:6

I have heard many messages regarding this passage and interpretations of why when Jesus’ friend Lazarus was sick He did not rush to Lazarus to heal him. Messages that ultimately point to the miraculous resurrection and glory that it brought to God.   However, as I read those words “He stayed.” those words lept off the page. Lately, its the little words, and not the overall story that have been speaking to me in my quiet time.

Knowing the full story, it is easy to see He stayed because He loved His friends enough to let them feel the short term pain to experience the blessing He had for them. He stayed because there was something the others needed to learn. He stayed because others needed to see His plan to bring glory to the Lord. Lazarus was raised from the dead because He stayed.

Jesus knew exactly what would happen to Lazarus.

But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  John 11:4

After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”  The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”  Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep.  Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died,  and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” John 11:11-15

He knew that Mary and Martha would grieve.

 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. John 11:33

He knew that the people would gather for the rituals that surround death.

I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” John 11:42 

He knew they would question why He did not act sooner.

But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” John 11:37

hestayedHe knew all that would happen because while He was fully man; He was fully God.  He grieved their pain as man.  He stayed as God.

There are times in my life where I have asked “Lord, where are you?” Times I have looked back and said, like Mary and Martha, “If only you had been here.”  As I gain the perspective of reflection on those moments, I can see He stayed for my benefit. He knew what would need to transpire for me to grow. He stayed so I would not look to Him to shortcut the process. He stayed because He knew I would the need the lesson from that moment to carry me in the season of life. He knew the lessons I would need to learn that might seem painful in the moment but would carry me forward in His will for my life.

He stayed because He knew the path I would walk. He knew the people who would cross my path that I could teach. He stayed so that others could learn from me and not have to walk the path of pain or walk on it as long.

He stayed so that I would recognize His hand on my life when I cross the paths of others walking where I walked. He stayed because the only thing I can do is give Him glory. I know, “There but the grace of God go I.” I see it with every hurting person He brings across my path.  I can see that, because He stayed.

I see the miracles that have been brought about in my life because He stayed. No, I haven’t seen the dead raised back to life (although I have met a few people who have experienced that miracle), but I have seen Him resurrect dead things in my life. I have experienced reconciliation in a broken marriage, family relationships restored in perfect timing.  I have been completely broken and felt destroyed, and yet I can see He stayed with me through it all. He walked alongside of me. And those times when I wondered where He was, He stayed silent knowing how things would work out for God’s glory.

There are times, in the moment, where we are left wondering where the Lord is.  We can rest confidently that He has never left us.  He stayed.  We can trust that if He is not acting on our behalf in the moment, that He stayed quiet for God’s glory.

Posted in Faith, Growth Process, Hope | Tagged , , ,

Unopened gifts

The grand tree stands alone, perfectly decorated with little red boxes with black felt ribbons neatly tied. How the gifts are attached to the tree, I can not see, but it is a magnificent sight. I saw multiple boxes opened. Each with varying gifts. Although the boxes seemed small the gifts that poured out of them, like ribbons just kept coming. The boxes seemed to expand like a magicians hat as the gifts were shared. A small gift with immeasurable impact. The picture is burned into my mind, speaking messages still days later.

The picture of the Church. The tree representing Christ, the gifts each of His children, they are available only as they are attached to Him. So many see the small box and see it as insignificant, as if they have nothing to offer. They look at what they see and never attempt to open the gift to share what God has placed inside of it. However as they dare to open the gift, it seems to grow and grow and grow producing more and more and more than they could ever think or imagine.

pablo (3)Days later what strikes me is that a gift doesn’t reproduce until it is opened. It remains a small box pretty to look at, but not good for much else. However, it is not the Lord that opens the gift. The gift is only opened by the receiver.

How often do gifts go unused because we are afraid or unwilling to risk opening them? How often are the left unopened because we’re afraid they are too small or that they will just not be enough? Yet God will never force us to use when He has placed within us. He will not open the gift for us. He has provided gift to us, but only we can open it up to be used. Only we can decide how much to pull out of what He has placed inside. Others may recognize what is inside us. Others may encourage us to see it, to use it, and even try to pull on it, but only we can choose whatvwe do with our gifts.

I think the picture was what I needed in the moment. In came on the wings of a new gift being expressed through me, but I had shared with some friends in the same evening my frustration. I acknowledge some gifts I know are inside of me, I just don’t know how to express yet or use them to God’s fullest design. Other gifts, people recognize in me, but I am afraid of letting the gifts flow from me because it is outside of what I understand or out of my comfort zone. I was frustrated that I have walked with the Lord for the majority of my life and have never had anyone who really has “pulled out” the gifts in me.

I have only recently begun learning how to express some of the things that I have known were inside of me for years. I have safe space to learn to express those gifts, one that I wish I had all along.

As I step out in obedience, I have been encouraged. Its uncomfortable, and scary, and yet freeing and exelerating. It is humbling to know He is using me and exciting when He lets me see I didn’t miss the mark or mess it up. As I pull on what is in the gift box, I am surprised that what seems so little to begin with keeps coming and growing. What He was showing me, is not only a picture that the gifts are there, but that only I can open the gifts in my life for His use. Only I can open the unopened gifts He has given in my life.

Posted in Faith

Encountering Christ

There were six people or groups whose stories we read on the Bible who encountered Christ in the beginning of His life on earth. Those people included Mary, Joseph, the inn keeper, the shephards, Simeon and Anna and the wise men.

Despite these five stories, His life had been prophesied for centuries, and was available for all to discovet. The prophets had told of His coming and provided the information for those who were looking.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26‭-‬38 ESV

Mary, boldly surrendered to the Word. She allowed God to use her completely, regardless of the cost that could come to her.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Matthew 1:18‭-‬25 ESV

Joseph was the protector of the promise. He could have rejected what the angel told him and Mary would have been killed. He could have thought it all just a dream and just walked away without receiving the revelation. Yet in faith, he believed and stood with her. He protected Jesus as his own, and listened to the direction he received through dreams.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.
Matthew 2:13‭-‬15‭, ‬19‭-‬23 ESV

Then there was the unseen innkeeper. He didnt have room in the inn. He only gave to God what was left, the stable where he kept his own and the travelers’ animals.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:1‭-‬7 ESV

The fourth group was the shepherds. They had an amazing sign that led them to encounter Christ. The angels appeared to them. The shepherds simply obeyed. They encountered Christ and then shared all that they had seen and heard.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Luke 2:8‭-‬20 ESV

The fifth set of people was Simeon and Anna, devout persons to God. They knew the prophecies. They both recognized Him when Jesus was presented to them. They waited thier entire lives for the opportunity to see the Lord. They recognized Him even in infant form by the leading of the Spirit.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:25‭-‬38 ESV

The last group was the wise men. They were the only ones who sought Him out. It was not a short journey, they spent thier lives studying the Word along with many others, but they are the only ones who saw the signs and sought Him out. Their seeking took years. They not only sought Him, but they came bearing expensive gifts.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
Matthew 2:1‭-‬12‭, ‬16ESV

Even today, as Christians we have the opportunity to choose how we encounter Christ. At times we may respond like Mary and submit completely. We may experience seasons where we spend our time like Joseph guarding the promises we have received. Sadly, there will be times that like the inn keeper, we only give God our left overs because we aren’t willing to make room for Him in our lives. We at times will be like Simeon and Anna, who stand with great expectations, but wait for the Lord to come to us for our encounter. If we are wise, we will continuely seek the Lord and offer our gifts continually as we seek Him.

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Never Give Up

I had the privledge of being with our four to six year old children’s church group this week. I forgot how much the teach me in the moment. I remember how much I can enjoy the children. They bring a fresh break from my normal routine.

We were learning about the story of David and Goliath. After the lesson and all that goes into class time, I planned a game to bring home the story. I wanted something they would remember. The object of the game was to get the stone in the cup that was over nine feet away. Reminding them David’s stone had to reach Goliath in the right spot to kill him.

Each of the children took a turn being David. As you can imagine, none of them was successful with the single stone. Although David had five, it only took one. After a few rounds, they tired of trying. They declared David was successful because of God, which was a wonderful point I wasn’t even teying to make. I reminded them with God nothing is impossible.

A few of the children wanted to continue on. They were up for the challenge even after the rest of the group had moved on to just playing. The few were persistant and two of the kids actually got the stone in the cup after many tries.

One of the older boys kept going and going even after everyone else was done. As he kept trying and failing, I told him that even though David had only used one stone, David had practiced a lot before that time. I reminded him that David had killed the lion and the bear. I told him, I was sure much of David’s time tending the sheep was spent sharpening his slingshot skills. David was prepared when everyone else had given up because of this.

The little boy said “Yea, I’m David. the rest of the class is like the Israelites, they gave up.” He did eventually get the stone in the cup a couple times knocking the cup over as it entered. He was so proud of himself. I heard him as he left church telling his mom about the lesson.

I thought about the young child’s comment as I left. How many times do I look at preparation time as wasted time? I would love to think that I have learned the lesson, but too often I give up in the preparation. I grow weary of not seeing the progress I expect. I cower back in fear when the enemy comes against me because my faith isn’t where it needs to be in the moment.

When I do see success in the long term, I know the only reason I was is due to preparation. I can make the win because I put the time in during practice ahead of time. Some thing’s I am great at putting in the preparation time, but too often I get discouraged in the preparation, especially as a task oriented person.

I want to have the perserverance of David. I want he stick-to-it-ness of the child not willing to stop until he showed he could hit the mark. I want to be the person that is ready to face the battle, regardless of how big the enemy appears. I want to have the faith to stand when everyone else is cowering back. I want to be the person who never, ever gives up.

Posted in Faith

Freed from Religion

I wreligionas praying recently and saw a vision of a giant black Bible.  It was opened, and a person was lying in the center of the fold.    The cover started to close with the pages closing over the person in the middle of Bible.  The person was writhing in pain, as the book closed in on the person.  As it closed a single white dove flew out.  The person was free from the crushing weight.

As I prayed and sought understanding of the vision, I saw it as the battle I face with religion along with the key of how to be freed from religion.  I deal with the spirit of religion, it is very easy for my personality to become legalistic.  I recognize religion now and generally have enough Word in me to put religion in its place.  I long for the time where religion dies and all that is left is relationship with Christ.

Every now and then, I will recognize religion in something that has previously deceived me as truth.  I can label it and set it down, but more than any other struggle religion rears its head in my life.  It is trying to control the freedom that Christ died for me to have.

I have always fought religion with the Word.  The Word is black and white.  I know that God would never lead me something that is contrary to the Word.  However, I am learning  that my understanding of the Scriptures is skewed by my 21st Century Western mind-set.

The Pharisees were in the same time and place as Jesus, and they still perverted the Word and used it to control the people.  Religion does the same.  Religion is about the letter of the law not concerned at all with the Spirit of it.  God is concerned about relationship, He has laws but also sent His Spirit to guide and direct.  I need the Holy Spirit to guide and direct me in the Word to bring deeper revelation and truth.

Jesus was the Word:  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

But Jesus was concerned about the Spirit.  He know that it was too easy for us to get bogged down in the rules:   Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. John 16:7-8

From the words of Jesus: When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-15

God meant for us to know Him through both the Word and Spirit.  I believe that it takes both for us to truly combat religion.  The Word paints the picture of who God is, but the Spirit helps us to understand the depths of who He is.  It is only through the power of Word and the power of the Spirit that religion will die and my relationship with the Lord will flourish.  Only then can I be freed from religion.

Posted in Faith, Restoration | Tagged , ,

Chosen Imperfections

There is a gorgeous accent wall at my church, made of wood planks. For whatever reason, there is a single plank that always catches my attention. Tonight was no different. I opened my eyes to see it front and center to me. Anytime something continually catches my attention, I look for the lesson that God might be speaking to me through it. I take it as a “Here’s your sign” from the Lord. Yes, a lot of times I need that direct comment from Him to listen or in this case see.

As I thought about the plank, I realize it has a major imperfection. There is dark grain running vertical on the horizontal plank. If I had picked the planks individually, I would have put it back. I wouldn’t have used it, but the builder of the accent wall was looking at the overall purpose and aesthetics. Seeing the finished product, it is perfect.

As I kept thinking of my reaction to the plank, I realized there are still times I have that same attitude with God. I focus on all that is wrong with me. My present faults, failures, and shortcomings are many; that doesn’t even take into account my past. I wouldn’t have picked me, knowing all my imperfections.

Yet God does pick me. I wasn’t some random plank in a large slab of planks, that He purchased. I wasn’t someone He had to work with regardless of my imperfections because He had to have me to fill His purpose.  He chose me. He chooses each of us individually.  He sees all of our imperfections and stills says “That is the one I want to use.”  I have come to realize that sometimes it is percisely in my imperfections that lead Him to use me. What better person to minister to a messed up person than someone who has walked the same path of failure and imperfection.

I also thought about how I am so focused on that one plank, that I don’t see the imperfections in the other planks. When I step back and look at the bigger picture, no one, except Christ, is perfect. When I take in the whole accent wall, many of the planks have knots, different grains that catch the color differently, and other imperfections.

Every person has different faults, failures, and shortcomings. There are areas that most of us would look at in our lives as disqualifiers for our use by God. When we see those same things in the lives of others, we can see the beauty in their testimony. We can highlight thier faults as a uniqueness in their personality. We see failures as a turning point to their overcoming. We see shortcomings as a reason for their merit to serve.

How often in my own life am I so focused on all that I’ve got wrong, that I think I am the only one with anything wrong? My imperfections are magnified in my eyes because I see them up close and personal. I need to give myself the same grace that God gives me, the same grace I give to others. I also need to see how my imperfections may work next to others for them to see the need for change, the potential for overcoming, or give merit to the magificant work of God.  Others see me with the same grace I see them.

20191113_1939192805598692627487952.jpgThe final thing I saw, is that it is as we come together as a body that the true beauty in our lives is revealed. Alone, I might be set in the discard pile due to my imperfections. When I am submitted to Christ and working in unity with Him and those He has built me to be part of, I become asthetically pleasing. We were never designed to be alone. We are part of the body of Christ and our imperfections are covered in grace and forgiveness. We are sealed with the blood of Christ to bring glory to God.  It is in our completeness as His body that we are able to fulfill what He designed us for, His plans and purpose.

Maybe, as I am sitting in church my eyes will not be drawn to this imperfect plank.  I smile knowing if they do, I will know God is just wanting to remind me of His lessons.

That despite my imperfections:

  • He chose me.
  • I am not alone in my imperfections, but He can still use me for His purpose.
  • My imperfections will be less noticeable when I am working in unity with Him and those around me.
  • In my imperfections, His work will be seen and He will receive the glory.
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Slow down and frolic

My coworker teases me because I am slow. I have a shorter gait than she does. I rarely attempt to walk fast enough to try to keep up. It is a little joke between us.

Today as I was walking in to work, one of our maintenance men blew past me down the hall. Then he paused, backed up, and walked beside me. He said “I really need to learn to slow down.” I jokingly told him, “They usually tell me to speed up.” He walked the remainder of the way with me and turned off to his work space.

Just reflecting on that brief conversation, I thought about how often we get caught up in the rat race of life. We spend so much time trying to keep up with others. We rush from one thing to the next with very little margin built in, let alone free time. So many people I talk to say that they feel guilty if they take some time to just relax and do nothing.

frolicI lived that way; it was my husband and children that paid the price. I gave my best to others. I spent myself on those who would take anything and everything I had to offer, and give me little to nothing in return. My children and husband got the leftovers and at times even the leftovers were not much. I am grateful that somewhere along the way, I learned to slow down. I only regret it was for the most part after the kids hit thier teenage yearals and were on thier way out of the house.

I had a wise professor in my undergraduate Social Work program. She taught us the importance of taking time to enjoy the now. We would take time in the midst of a busy, stressful, and chaotic week to frolic.

Merriam Webster online dictionary defines frolic as a verb (Entry 2 of 3)
1: to amuse oneself : make merry
2: to play and run about happily : ROMP

Yes, there were probably times, as students that we took advantage of her encouragement of frolicking. We often declared the need to be outside for our class; even if we were not running around, it did make us merry. I now realize she was engaging us in self-care. It was an important lesson, that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time.

Each person’s frolic may look different. I am a joyful person, but I am not sure people would call me merry. I am not one to run and play a lot. My play looks much different than how most people play. What amuses me doesn’t generally amuse others. Its okay, I am content to live at a pace that doesn’t match others.

As someone in a helping profession, self care is important. We all have a different pace, things that give us energy and things that drain us. We have to access that regularly and work to make adjustments in our lives that take into account our pace. We have to take time to slow down and enjoy where we are in life. We have to take time to slow down and frolic.
Posted in Restoration

Shudder or scatter

There is this scene in the original The Lion King (1994) where the hyenas say the name of the king, Mufasa. One shudders at the power of the name, but says “do it again.” I couldn’t place the scene in the movie but that was the picture that came to my mind today as we sang about the name of Jesus.

The song by Gateway “When I speak your name” says:

When I speak Your name
Mountains move, chains are loosed
When I speak Your name
Darkness flees, it has no hold on me

As I sang the words, I thought there are some mountains that haven’t moved in my life. I walk around them, I talk to them, but they never move.

I realize there are some chains that still aren’t loosed. They might rattle at times, but I still let them hold me captive. I make the demons shutter at His name, but without His authority I haven’t commanded them to flee.

Like the hyenas, I recognize there is power in the name of the King, but I am not speaking it with authority. The hyenas had no problem being in the presence of His name. When Mufasa came in authority, they didn’t shutter, they scattered.

Power is the ability or potential of an individual to influence others and control their actions. Authority is the legal and formal right to give orders and commands, and make decisions.

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. Luke 9:1 NKJV

Christ gave His disciples both, but they didn’t always use them. As Christians, we have access Christ’s power to influence and control. Too often, we give power away instead of exerting it in Jesus’ name.

Christ has given us the authority. We have the right to command and make decisions. Yet, we often fail to exercise that authority in the name of Jesus. We sit back and let the culture and environment around us to control our voice.

When we don’t exercise what Christ has given us, the mountains stay in place. We stay bound in chains when we give up our power and authority. We let darkness spread when we do not let His light shone through us in all power and authority.

We need to stop making the enemy shudder and make him scatter as we use the power and authority available in Christ.

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Stand

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Ephesians 6:13

I took a deeper look into this passage as my focus has been on warfare.

According to the Military Science Fiction there are three basic types of war:

Attrition War – forces attack to destroy enemy forces to destroy the ability to fight.  It is measured by ground captured and enemy destroyed.

Maneuver War – fought to destroy the enemy’s will to fight.  It involves risk and exploits weaknesses and fears.

Revolutionary War – seeks to evade destruction , turning the people against leaders and the leaders against the people.  It is about emotions and beliefs, killing is a means to an end, not the end itself.

standIf I believe that Jesus finished everything at the cross, that the total price was paid and victory was obtained at the resurrection, then the war is already won.  This passage tells me that my role is to stand firm.

Satan often tries to convince me that the war is not already won.  He attacks me with all three types of war trying to tear me down.

Attrition War – He tries to make me think he has captured territory that is not his, like taking prayer out of school or legalizing abortion. Satan did not take that territory, he doesn’t have that power.   Christ finished it on the cross. As Christians, we backed away from the battle instead of taking a stand.  We gave the territory to him.

Maneuver War – Satan preys on my weakness and fears.  The Word says “My grace is enough for you, for my power is brought to perfection in weakness.” Therefore, I am very happy to boast about my weaknesses, in order that the Messiah’s power will rest upon me.  Christ finished it at the cross.  I have to stand firm in who God says I am instead of listening to the lies of the enemy.

Revolutionary War – Satan tries to convince me that God is mad at me.  He tries to turn me against God.  Satan convince me that God is not all the Word portrays Him to be based on the circumstances surrounding me. Satan tries to wedge himself into my deepest questions.  Those questions like “why would a good God allow ____ to happen.”  Christ finished it at the cross.  I have to stand on the truth of the Word and allow God to minister in those places.

The enemy’s tactics must be exposed, because it is finished.  As a Christian I can stand on the finished work of Christ.  Jesus already won the war.  I have to learn to stand confidently in whatever battle Satan rages against me.  I have to remind myself of the authority I have in Christ.  I have to stand firmly in that authority.  I have to know that regardless of what things look like around me, the war is already one.  I have to stand on His promises.  I have to know that nothing can seperate me from the love of God.  I have to stand on His promises.

Lord, You already won the war.  Remind me to stand on Your Word when Satan tries to wage battle.  It is finished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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True value

There is a lot of talk about the worth or value of a person. This is often tied to a person’s self-esteem or lack there of. It can lead decsions we make about many things. Too often, in our consideration of our own value we fail to consider the value placed on us by our Creator. We fail to consider the price that was paid for us.

We tend to cheapen our value as we accept as truth comments that tear us down or are contrary to the Word of God. Or we allow treatment to ourselves that we would not tolerate to anyone that we love or care about and that our Creator did not design us to tolerate. Or we place ourselves in situations that our Creator never intended us to be.

I started to think about how Christ, the Son of Man could have struggled with His value had He not had a deep revelation from the Father of His worth. Men spoke against Him.  They attempted to stone Him on several occasions. His death was a brutal one. Yet in it all, He knew what His value was.

How He really did experience what we go through. I often wonder if He might have experienced it on a deeper level because He knew what perfect love was like.  He experienced perfect love with the Father. I started thinking about how those close to Him valued Him.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. John 12:1‭-‬6 ESV

Mary held Jesus in high regard. She was willing to use costly perfume to anoint His feet. One danarius is said to be a day’s wages. So she was willing to give up a years wages to anoint the feet of Jesus.   Never mind that she wiped His feet with her hair.  I Corinthians 11:15 says that long hair is a woman’s covering, her glory.

Contrast Mary’s value towards Jesus to that of his disciple, Judas.

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. Matthew 26:14‭-‬16 ESV

Thirty pieces of silver was the value of slave who was accidently killed. If the ox gores a slave, male or female, the owner shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned. Exodus 21:32 ESV

Judas valued Jesus, a “friend” he had walked along side of and served, as a slave. He was willing to give Him over to those who sought to kill Jesus for the price of a slave.  The thirty pieces of silver eventually bought the Field of blood, a potter’s field for the burial of strangers.

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Matthew 27:3‭-‬7 ESV

Value.pngAnd then there were the secret followers of Christ. These men who followed Christ in secret.  Yet they still valued Him.

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
John 19:38‭-‬42 ESV

Some commentaries point out that this amount of myrrh and aloes was excessive, enough for hundreds of bodies. They who followed Him in secret publically honored Him in death.

Each of these scriptures is tied to Christ’s death. Mary prepared Him for death. Judas led Him to His death. Joseph and Nicodemus prepared Him for burial. Each held Jesus at a different value, thier actions related to His death spoke louder than thier words.

Jesus could have seen how others treated Him, or valued Him and discounted His own value. Instead He held tightly to what God said about Him. What an example for us to hold on to, in more ways than one.

First, how much do I value to gift that has been given to me by Christ? What am I willing to give up for Him? Does it look like the price of a dead slave or extravagant purfume?

Second, am I more focused on how others value me or how God does? Are the words I hear in my head or the scenes I play in my mind those of people? Or do I let those words pass through and hold on to the Words God has spoken over me? Am I focused on what others think I am worth or the value He placed on me? He holds my true value.

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