Crossing Over

crossing over

Sometimes we all need a reminder that we are in a battle for the lives and souls of mankind. We have an enemy.  And he often knows who we are before we do.  The enemy strategically targets…..and guess what?  YOU and I are a target!  As God’s children, we are created in His image and likeness and we are marked.  And when you and I are marked by the Most High God, we become noted by the enemy.

Oftentimes the attacks on your life have more to do with who you might be in the future than who you are right now or even who you have been in the past. Our enemy sets up ambush early in our lives thru pain and trauma and will not relent until he has utterly destroyed. BUT, your history does not determine your destiny!  And your past does not have to proclaim your future!

I see this ambush across our land today to divide, spread violence and hatred……But I also see the light and love of God shining through.

When man decides to do what is right in his own eyes, there will never be justice or fairness. Until we place ourselves back under the submission of God, our land will not have rest.  The enemy has come in like a flood, but God has raised a standard.  And that is THE POWER OF HIS LOVE!

We may be targeted by the enemy for destruction, but we also have been called to be history makers!   Someone who can transform their world and impact their community with the goodness of Christ.

God created man as the pinnacle of His creation. When He made man and woman, he stepped back and said “it is good!”  In Psalm 8, David proclaims that man has been crowned with glory and honor by God and given dominion over all creation….in fact, all things have been put under man’s feet.

This includes, prejudices, hatred, feelings, murderous thoughts and the like. As human beings, we do not have to be controlled by the injustices of this world or the emotions stirred up by others.  We can put off these fleshly clothes and put on love, mercy, forgiveness and compassion….even when we don’t “feel like it.”

His Love Changes Everything

If God were to offer us a challenge, I think it would be this. To walk every day in His love!  To wake up each day and turn away from the lens of the past.  To trust God in all things and purpose within our hearts to extend kindness, goodness and compassion towards everyone.  When we do this, peace will flood our land.  And it will not be a surprise ambush, but a great deluge that will cover the deeds of hatred and division.  Love gathers…..hatred divides.

Who are you going to be? I hear God asking this question of all mankind.  Whom will you serve today?  Will it be your emotions and circumstances that have happened yesterday?  Or will you defy popular culture and be a history maker for righteousness and honor?

You and I are God’s workmanship, created, shaped and formed in Christ, the anointed One for GOOD works. (Ephesians 2:10) You and I have the opportunity to influence our world, and our cities, with God’s goodness.  He has created a people to do this very thing.  Let us rise to this occasion and not shrink back.  If everyone who calls themselves by the name of Christ would stand in the power of God’s love, I promise we would see our communities and world transformed!

You are marked for greatness!   Who are you going to be today?

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His Kindness Leads

Looking for the kindness of God!

love heart

Years ago, I once had someone tell me that God was the kindest person that they had ever met.  I pondered that statement for days.  I had never thought of God as kind, it just wasn’t something I expected of God.  However, today, I would agree whole-heartedly with this statement…..God truly is the kindest, most gracious individual I have ever encountered.  But I will confess, I haven’t always felt this way.

I grew up with a very authoritarian father and an absent mother.  My dad was always “bigger than life” to me and whatever he said RULED!  As a child, I rarely was able to express my thoughts or feelings on issues that concerned me.  It was expected that I would simply submit to the wishes of my father.  One year when I was away at college, I came home and found my dad a radically changed man.  There were some dire circumstances that had come into his life and in a moment, he had to make a choice……KNOW God or continuing living a life apart from God – trusting in his own arm of flesh.  As a result, my dad had a powerful encounter with the LORD where HIS will submitted and yielded to God’s.  This event brought about instant changes in my dad’s life.  As a result, there was a softness and gentleness about him that I had never seen.  My dad became very compassionate and caring about other people’s feelings and he exuded more patience than ever before.  I enjoyed being around my dad as a result of his new demeanor and our relationship grew and flourished.  As I entered into adulthood fully, I found my dad and I becoming great friends and there was an intimacy forming between us that I had always longed for.

I tell you all this so you can understand WHY it wasn’t always easy for me to see God as kind.  Oftentimes, the dynamics of how we relate to our earthly father is how we relate or interact with our heavenly Father.  I don’t believe this is something people are intentional about doing, it just happens.  Especially if you don’t start walking with the LORD until later in life or perhaps you didn’t have an earthly father that modeled kindness or gentleness.  Which in my situation was what happened.

The last 28 years of walking with God intimately has developed within me a deep appreciation of this truth.  As I have matured, I am able to recognize my heavenly Father as kind, loving, compassionate and slow to get angry.  All these attributes of God can be found in scriptures, but unless you spend time getting to know him personally, it will be difficult knowing Him in this way.  My journey with God has proven over and over, that He shows us His glory and lovingkindness on a daily basis- we simply need to look for it or we might miss it.

My pastor challenged us as a congregation to pray the Lord’s prayer and Psalm 23 three times a day for the entire month of January.   The last verse of Psalm 23 reads:  “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me ALL the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”  Because I believe that God wants His word to actually get inside of us and grow, I have taken this promise to heart.  I am actually looking and expecting God’s goodness and mercy to follow me.  As I submit to His leading in my daily life, a favor has come upon me that has unlocked miracles, joy and peace, not only for myself, but my entire family.  This is what God’s goodness and mercy looks like.  Favor is the attraction of God towards you, that releases an influence through you, so that everything you need in order to accomplish your assignment begins to be drawn to you.

In the book of Exodus, Moses, a man like us, desired an intimate encounter with his God.  He prayed and asked God to show him His glory.  As God answered this request, He took Moses on a high place and “passed” before him.  God then proclaimed all of His glory and nature to Moses.  “And the LORD proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin….”

Isn’t this powerful? Isn’t this what kindness looks like?  I can just start jumping up and down on this promise alone!  This is our God!  This is our heavenly Father, that we can know, interact with and experience kindness from.  My friend, if you do not know God in this way, I beg you to do as Moses did.  Call out to God, pray and ask Him to show you His glory.  I promise you, this prayer will get answered and you will be blown away by God’s loving-kindness.

Be intentional and expect to see God’s goodness and mercy following you every day.  Turn around and look behind you – these are HIS guideposts and promises towards you as His son or daughter.

“Father, because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will always praise You.  I ask you to show me your kindness and mercy every day.  Forgive me for not trusting in Your promises.  Change my heart so that I will desire, like Moses, to have an encounter with your compassion, grace and patience.” 

God Will Meet You Where You Are

Beauty For Ashes APR 2010 Header

 If I was stranded on an island and offered only one book from the bible, I would choose the prophecies of Isaiah.  Within its pages are beautiful promises on the character and nature of God.  It is full of the decrees that Jesus would accomplish while walking on this earth.  One of my most favorite passages in Isaiah is chapter 61.  We are told that Jesus, the Messiah, would heal our broken hearts and give us His beauty for our ashes.  Most of us love this promise, but soon get frustrated when we don’t see everything become pretty all at once.  I have found, when this has happened in my own life, it is because I am hanging onto some of my ashes/mess.  Sometimes I am just not willing to give them to the Lord because holding them close gives me the feeling of being powerful.  Perhaps it is too scary to let go of all the pain, hurt and frustration.  Possibly, carrying your ashes brings you a level of comfort.   Or, it could be, that no one has ever taken the time to help you unload the weight of what you have been bearing.

I want to share with you an encounter with God’s word that helped me unpack the load I had.  One day I was reading in the 8th chapter of the book of Matthew.  Jesus is ministering to the people who had come to hear him speak.  The text tells us that Jesus “cast out unclean spirits with a word and healed them of their sickness.”  The passage goes on to quote a scripture from Isaiah 53:4, saying all of this had to be fulfilled in order for the prophecies of Isaiah to be true -“He Himself would take our infirmities and bear our sicknesses.”  Immediately, I turned to Isaiah 53:4 and read, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…..”

Two words caught my attention – infirmity and grief.  I looked up both of these in the concordance and the definitions:  Infirmity – feebleness of mind and/or body, malady, frailty.   Grief – to be rubbed or worn down; to become weak; to be grieved or in pain; sore, anxiety, calamity.

I recognized that part of Jesus’ mission towards us as His body, was to minister healing to our emotions and soul.  Jesus understands what it means to be worn down and rubbed raw from painful experiences.  He knew that our souls needed to be restored so that we could have a better relationship with the Father.  While on this earth, we will have trials, suffering and pain, but Jesus came to return your soul back to a place of health and vitality.  One of my favorite Psalms reminds us that God is our good Shepherd and He restores our souls to places of stillness and calm.

Where are you today?  Are you lost in tragedy, problems or even sin?  Are you sick or lonely?  Are your emotions a mess because you have been abandoned, betrayed or rejected?    Maybe you are living the results of all your mistakes and you don’t know what to do.  Are you ready to let go of all your ashes my friend?  If so, cry out to your heavenly Father and He will meet you right where you are.  You may not know where you are, but God knows and He will come and find you.  You are never hidden from His sight!  The best prayer is sometimes the simplest, “Father God help me!”

 

“Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Matthew 11:29

 

I will NOT stay silent!

This morning I got up early!  Even though it was a holiday, my body is programmed to wake up around 6:00am.  After my first cup of coffee, I settled into my daily routine of reading through the gospels.  Currently, I am in the book of Mark.  I have been reading the four gospels over and over repeatedly for the past eight months.  When I finish the book of John, I start back over at Matthew.  I have lost accurate count but, I think I am on my 4th rotation of reading through.  That may not seem like much but, I travel slow!  I often get side tracked and start reading footnotes or I look up a certain passage that Jesus quotes or refers to from the old testament.  Before I know it, I have spent 30 minutes reading from the book of Isaiah because I get so enthralled at what is being said.  I confess, I loose track of time.  Spending time in God’s word is like that.  Time seems to stand still.

So today’s reading was Mark chapter 10.  As I was reading along, I got to verse 46, and blind Bartimaeus is introduced.  Seemingly a random insert into a glimpse of time outside the town of Jericho.  Suddenly, I was on the edge of my seat!  I had read this story many times but, today it was if the words jumped off the page.   Bartimaeus is on the side of the highway begging, and he hears that Jesus is walking by.  Immediately, Bartimaeus begins to call out to Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”.  As soon as the others hear his cries, they begin to hush him and rebuke him saying, “be quiet!”.  Bartimaeus  ignores the crowd shushing him and continues crying out to Jesus.  So much so, that Jesus stops, turns and commands Bartimaeus to be brought to Him.  Are you ready?  This is where it gets real good.   Jesus asks Bartimaeus what exactly does he want.  Remember, the man is blind – no sight!  I am sure that Jesus can notice this fact and I find it very interesting that Jesus asks anyway.  I have realized that sometimes, God wants us to simply just ask……in doing this we admit that we are needy.  When we acknowledge our needs, we set ourselves up to receive!

Bartimaeus humbly asks Jesus, that he might receive his sight.   Without hesitation, Jesus grants his desire and Bartimaeus is healed.  Where he once was blind, he now has sight!  Amazing!

As I stopped and pondered this account, I was struck with the fact that blind Bartimaeus did NOT stay silent!  Even though the crowds tried to silence him, he continued to cry out to the One whom He knew could provide what he needed.  My mind began to race….what if Bartimaeus had listened to the people?  What if he had obeyed them and silenced his own cries? What if he allowed their opinions to matter?  Would Bartimaeus have received his miracle?

You see, I am convinced that if Bartimaeus had given in to popular opinion, he would not have gotten his sight!  I know that if Bartimaeus had remained silent, he would still be sitting by the roadside, blind and begging.  I believe that if Bartimaeus had not kept pursuing his one desire, he would not have obtained the thing that mattered the most to him.  When we can push past the crowds and keep crying out for an encounter with Jesus, then I promise our miracle is just on the other side.

So, today I made a declaration.  I will NOT stay silent!  I will not listen to my peers, or even my foes, who try to silence me for telling the good news of Jesus.

Blind Bartimaeus inspired me today!  I want his courage, I need his stamina.  I desire his passion to encounter Jesus, even if it means crying out and looking foolish to others.  Because I am convinced, just as Bartimaeus was, that Jesus is good and that when I capture His attention, it is then that I am fully satisfied!

Isaiah 62:6 – “I have set watchman upon your walls Jerusalem, they shall not hold their peace day or night; you that make mention of the LORD, do not stay silent”.